My cultures seem clearest to me in objects and values my parents had in our house when I was growing up, many of which are still there.
I think immediately of string bags, grass skirts, shell necklaces, bush knives, and Dad’s cheap reproductions of Gauguin paintings of women in the tropics.
I remember being sent to care for old neighbours and baby sit other people’s children for no payment so my mother could show her generosity and teach me the value of service. I remember cooking family meals and being the little mother to my brothers from a young age.
As I think back on these objects I think of the riddles they hold, and want to go deeper under the surface to explore what context they have in the present and past.
The values my mother taught me were sometimes explicit and other times hidden in the objects and gifts she gave to me.
Listening to a tape of my bubu, grandmother’s voice, I hear the chant of her world. Looking at the cards from my English grandmother, with animals made out of leaves and seeds pasted onto cardboard, I am struck by the time she spends to connect with a granddaughter she so rarely sees.
I am a daughter of many cultural worlds.
(c) June Perkins