My mother is yellow, my father is white and I am something in between. Belgian endive rolls in cheese sauce or wantan soup with stuffed dumplings, soy sauce and sesame oil? Don’t ask me to choose. I’m a banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside.
With almond-shaped eyes, sharp cheekbones, a light dark colour covering my skin and a fast metabolism, I walk through life. My life in Antwerp, which feels like home, is enriched by my traveller’s life in Asia. “Where are you from?” Today from Belgium, tomorrow from Hong Kong.
My mother and I, we are two different individuals with a different view of the world. I grew up in the West, she in the East. Whatever makes sense for me doesn’t for her and vice versa. Until the day I decided to travel tens of thousands of miles from home, Asia was strange to me and I felt estranged from my mother.
Asia, a part of the globe I knew to be her birthplace, so far away and yet so close.
Flying ten miles high in the sky, I celebrated my 25th birthday. A quarter of a century after my mother gave birth to me on Belgian ground, I was on a plane to Asia. A part of the globe I knew to be her birthplace, so far away and yet so close. As I didn’t know what to expect, I certainly didn’t expect it to be the first step to more understanding.
Since that day, the culture that I usually consider to be self-evident is less obvious. Moreover, the culture that was strange to me is becoming less unusual day by day. My way of thinking, living and being is unwantedly being determined by what I know.
Travelling in Asia breaks boundaries and reconciles me with my mother.
Travelling in Asia opens my eyes, as it provides me with a new culture and reconciles me with my mother. Although the difference remains – she loves a discrete and respectful distance, I love a good hug – I embrace it. It’s exactly this mutual acceptance that one day made us hug unexpectedly.
By telling stories, I challenge the world to open up. Get to know each other – across borders, fear and ratio. I thank my mother for the extra dimension she unintentionally gifted me with. Travel in your mind and soul. That’s my challenge for you.