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What better time to write a column about “pain” than when I’m in the middle of writing an essay that’s hurting my will to finish the year… (What do you mean it’s only the second half of the first trimester??!!).
I had a difficult and uncomfortable conversation with my sister once in which I wanted to do the things that made me happy (at least immediately so), and she wanted me to see how those decisions affected the people around me. I thought I’d seize this moment to pull out the line I’d heard in palagi movies and TV shows and blogs my whole life: “But it’s my life right? So I should decide what I want to do, for me.” And my sister, ever so graciously, refrained from slapping me across the face. Instead, she lowered her voice in the way you never want to hear Samoan women do, and replied with: “Who do you think will pay for the hospital? Who do you think will buy everything you need? Who do you think will offer you a home when you can’t afford to live on your own? Mum and Dad will. You know that. We will. Don’t pretend like you’re in this alone. You didn’t just spring up from nowhere when you entered this world. And you’re not the only one getting you through. But, even after all of the hassle they’ll have to go through for you, they’d rather that than you making a decision out of fear and shame.”
I’m here because my parents decided to move from our third-world heaven to a land of education and (hopefully) prosperity. I am here thanks to them, and their parents before them, who prioritised school over religious commitment. I achieve my successes because of the history that is behind me and those who surround me. And, by the same token, when I suffer they do too. My shitty decisions will ripple out to my loved ones, and their unconditional love ripples back. I am not my own woman—and not in an objectified way in which I’m my family’s property to bend at their every will. But what I do will somehow affect them, for better or for worse we are intrinsically tied, and I don’t want it any other way.