I know mum’s feeling anxious about the coming hospital check-up. She doesn’t show it but she has been discussing about her condition. I feel sorry for her, I listen and nod sympathetically. Maybe she needs a little hug, yet I can’t bring myself to do it.
A hug is a sign of love and affection, an exchange of warmth, support and comfort. While it is practised in almost all countries, it is a characteristic which many traditional Asian families does not acquire.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents to bits yet we are brought up in a conservative Chinese household where we show our love and affection in a million different ways except hug and kiss each other. Though both my parents are English educated, they themselves were brought up in very conservative Chinese families.
Growing up, my parents would take very good care of us and ensure that we were well fed, educated and lived comfortably. We would run to mum for comfort or advice whenever we had any problems. Dad would bring home our favourite books, toys or snacks and even cook us special dishes. That’s how they show their love… even until today.
I remember about 10 years ago, I gave dad a birthday card, telling him what a wonderful father he is and how I appreciate him. I didn’t even have the courage to tell him face to face, and I avoided him for days after I gave him the card. Later, through his conversations with his friends, I heard him say he’s proud of me. That meant a lot to me for I was the rebel who’s always making them worried.
Our generation is a little different. We hug our kids all the time but when it comes to friends, it depends. Though my best friend and I are close like sisters, we don’t hug each other. She’s also brought up in a similar environment and is not used to public displays of affection. Yet, I hug my other friends when we meet or when we’re happy.
Strangely, while my mum doesn’t hug me, she hugs my kids. Maybe it’s awkward if we suddenly change our habits, but as long as we know we still love each other a million different ways, that’s ok.