For as long as I can remember, there has always a space set out for my father's Buddhist goddess statue. Every day, like clockwork, he comes home, shoos the rest of the family into our rooms, closes our doors, and pays his respects to the statue. My father is a man of few words. As a child, I pestered him with questions about his religion, his eating habits (my father refuses to eat two-legged animals, such as chicken, duck), and his childhood. He always responded with vague answers, reluctant to reveal anything personal and as time went on, my questioning ceased.
I know absolutely nothing about Buddhism. I'm not sure which goddess this is or what role she plays. I have gotten irritated at times because my dad hoards the fresh fruit and presents them as offerings to the goddess. The fruit stay with the goddess until they start to rot and then, he throws them out, which means less fruit for me.
My dad was only able to bring this statue along after my parents' situation got a bit better because at the start, they had to concentrate on earning money since they only had $40 between the two of them when they arrived in New York in the 1990s. I think the statue is so important to my dad because it's a symbol of hope that offers solace to him in an environment where nothing feels familiar.
I've always wanted my father to share his culture and religious ideologies with me. But, since he's adamant on keeping me in the dark, I respect his privacy and choices.
– Michelle Li