I don’t want to write a post about my father (on Father’s Day) or my mother (on Mother’s Day). Suffice to say they already know I love’em but I always wondered a few things about Father’s Day. Why is it that Father’s Day isn’t as big as Mother’s Day? Is it that fatherhood isn’t as big as motherhood, or just not as appreciated? Is this perception part of our social conditioning? Or maybe marketers are to blame. If marketing campaigns surrounding us made Father’s Day out to be this huge thing then maybe we’d pay more attention to it. Then again, maybe all marketers have father’s who don’t like them spending money on gifts. Islamically the mother has always held a higher position than the father but I doubt that has anything to do with it. I think theyÃ¢??re both Hallmark holidays in the sense that I donÃ¢??t know too many cultures that designate a single day in the year to honour thy mother and father; as if it was a reminder for something we never get around to doing throughout the whole year.
I have one of those fathers who tells you how bad they had it when they were my age except in his case there is no exaggeration, no intended hyperbole, no comparison. I had it good (thank God).
I also have one of those Arabian fathers who reminds me of the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. For entertainment he’ll say: “Give me a word, any word, and I’ll tell you its Arabic origin”. In his mind is an encyclopaedia of knowledge with a specialty in Arab and Islamic history, and almost anything around today can be traced back to it. He is a generation of knowledge ahead of the pack and I can only hope to be a third of the man he is.
That being said, I’m sure there are a lot of Arab fathers out there who are the same way: proud of their heritage and history, like they should be. I only hope my own generation will be as appreciative of that history and heritage. I can only hope that they won’t be lost during this information revolution of ours where modern progress has meant an erosion in values and traditions and unwillingness to preserve anything not ‘worthwhile’ preserving.
Moreover, I hope that the world will pay more attention to Fathers as we do for Mothers.
I think what I still love about our culture is that we haven’t completely abandoned our parents. I’ve never seen a retirement home in Jordan. Families take care of each other till death. It’s not a tradition; it’s just part of who we are. I’m inclined to believe that traditions and cultures are learned behaviours but this concept is something we are practically born with.
Though the city has changed our way of life. I still travel with my father to his village in Kerak every time I visit, to see relatives. And even though everyone is old and complains constantly about each other, they are all part of this one big social network. It’s a village where everyone is related to each other somewhere down the line. And when you visit one house people will slowly crawl out of their homes and head towards where you are because they saw a car they don’t recognise in the street. And by the end of the day you have 100 people in a small living room crowding around a mansaf.
In Amman everyone is trying to get away from each other in a city that is too small to avoid people. People get married and move out of their parent’s home and live in an apartment on the other side of the city. Outside Amman, or rather west Amman, people continue to live with their parents. They just live upstairs. This is why you see all those one story houses all over the country with twisted iron bars coming out of the roof. They leave those for expansion. When the son is about to get married they start building a second story (literally and metaphorically).
Either way of life isn’t a big deal. Those who continue to live with their parents are part of this social transformation that allows them to start taking care of them. Those who move out can probably afford to and their parents are pretty well to do themselves. So either way has its pros and cons. What worries me about the West Ammani way of life is that we may be losing something in that process; there’s no social transformation.
It’s why I’m thankful that this part of the city isn’t that big and a great deal of its expansion has been internal instead of outwards. It keeps things small and contained and we can still have that cozy feeling where “everyone knows your name” and living far from one’s parents is only a 15 minute drive through the city’s traffic. It makes honouring thy fathers and mothers a daily event rather than an annual one. It’s a way of life you cannot define on a Hallmark greeting card.