Friend of mine from Cambodia married a fellow from New York--Cinderella dream come true. At her 3-day wedding, she was the envy of all. People brought her messages to give to Rambo and Angelina Jolie. I met up with her in Manhattan Island for a latte, hoping to hear that she is still happy.
What we call "extended family" is in Cambodia (and Mexico) the core family, the 20 people you all have around you. The people who accompany you to a job interview. The people you consult with for all things south of the sun. Extended family are the departed ones, the ancestors. They are alive, in heaven, and are an important part of the continuing family. There is a special time of year when Cambodians take out a week to spend with their "extended family" in heaven.
In New York, Ary had neither family nor extended family. No neighbours came visiting after work. She could not drop in on neighbours. No one to call when she gets stuck on the underground. No one to share the joys and pains of life. Hubby works like a typical consumerist capitalist, 10 hours a day and commutes for 3 more.
Ary is happy that her skin is lighter now, but she really misses the tropical sun. She misses winter in Cambodia when all dress up with sweaters and woolen caps because temperatures dropped to 18C/64F. But thats not important.
What is important is that Ary died inside. She is bitterly lonely, all dressed up in her fashion labels and iPhone and all. Her once clear and spontaneous laugh had gone. The twinkle in her eye and the naughty smile that hubby fell in love with is gone.
The price of the dream is just too high. One does not sell one's soul for such a small compensation.
Very soon now, Ary too will be gone.