How It Feels To Be His Daughter

As I walked through the hall, whispering to my mother on the phone amongst loud noise coming from the other room, I struggled to explain my decision, why I refuse to speak to my father again. I speak in my country’s tongue, but am reminded that this is a language I no longer pronounce properly and scramble for the right words in my head. It would be much easier to explain myself in dialect, but I promised myself that I would practice Mandarin because I refuse to let go of that part of my identity, or rather, the way of my family’s identity. say I refuse to speak to my father again because the weeks are becoming increasingly difficult and I cannot manage to argue with him anymore. But the truth is, I cannot face who I am when I speak to him.

I am desperate to cling to any bit of Chinese heritage left in me despite my obviously American ways of thought and being. I am proud of my country and I fight for others to see China for its people and not only its government for once.

But when I see a New York Times article discussing the oppression of Muslim people in western China, I cannot help but think harder about the injustices in my own country and want to learn more. How do I confront my father about that?

You don’t know that, but I do.

Yes, father, you do.

Yet I cannot ask you about these injustices because our conversations are rooted more so in our individual struggles to maintain identity than the politics itself. Him, wanting to restore the nostalgia of his youth and pride for his home country. And me, wanting to be Chinese without the hyphened American for once.

So when I asked my mother to relay my decision to my father, I still clung onto the phone, waiting to hear his response.

My mother, she does not want to speak to you anymore.

And click.

I could not hear his response, but I could feel his pain. How it must feel to have a daughter who struggles to speak in the native tongue and criticizes the home country. How it feels to be that daughter.