Wooden Shrine

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Wooden shrine where people pray
Wooden shrine where people pray

On deep wooden scratched floors sits a shrine that has existed for what seems like my lifetime. Standing and watching over the living room, the shrine and its burnt ashes of incense sticks fill the golden tray. When my parents first immigrated to Las Vegas from Thailand, wanting their house to feel like home, they bought a large wooden shrine with two jade dragons on the side and a statue of a monk in the middle to connect to their culture. Their love story was quickly cut short when my mother abandoned us, and the shrine was left behind. My father and I used to sit down and pray together at the shrine; it was the only activity at his old age he was ever willing to do with me that he was not too tired to do. Contentment filled my heart as we sat on that floor for hours, where he would answer all my bustling questions detailing deities and gods. We often set food down as an offering; we were not allowed to eat it for a day until the spirits ate it first. I would often ask if it was okay if I could eat the food after which he would give a minute rare smile and softly laugh “Yes.” Now the praying has ceased; no one leaves their designated area. I pass the shrine daily, looking down with listless eyes at the empty ashtray from when I last cleaned it out years ago. Sometimes I slowly sit down on the lamented wooden floors, grab three unused incense sticks that have been sitting in a container collecting dusk, light it up, and pray. 

Place(s): Thailand

– Angelina Bosuwan

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant