Chapter 3.18 – Cultures

The sim-world is a colorful aggregate, where rich and fascinating cultures have developed over the centuries; each culture with its own beliefs, values, customs, and practices.
When two or more of these cultures come into contact, the result can be a dynamic sharing of history and identity that produces an amazing new fusion of ideas. A marriage of their traditions is the best possible outcome any sim can hope for. And when those who participate in the exchange find that they have grown as a result of the experience, it makes the effort that much more satisfying.
Mark nervously bows to Mei’s parents, flanked protectively by Jiang Xi. The elder instructor is only the maternal grandfather, but he is still deeply respected within the family. Mei has dressed in a traditional gown, and Mark is reminded of a flower just before it blooms. She remains silent behind her parents as Jiang Xi asks for permission to enter. Mark offers a deep bow and presents the gifts Jiang Xi had instructed him to purchase. He repeats Jiang Xi’s words in his mind; remain silent, respectful, and speak only when asked. And under no circumstance disagree with anything that is said.
But there are times when two cultures are so different, and in such direct opposition to each other, that the outcome can only result in tragedy. Since nothing happens in a vacuum, the personalities involved certainly play a crucial role, directly contributing (either positively or negatively) to the final outcome. Perhaps a sim takes the importance of the other side’s convictions too lightly. Or maybe a sim’s convictions are practiced with too much zeal.
Yasmeen’s amazing green eyes smile as she regards Jacob. Staying with the Barimen family has been like living in a dream after being raised in a home filled with hate and controlled through fear. She knows Ali has seen her leave church with Jacob and his mother, but she does not care. Back home, she would be killed for abandoning the faith she was born into. But this is Sunset Valley, and she has choices here. She has chosen Jacob. She revels in her newfound joy while climbing into the car to go home with him and his mother after the evening’s sunday school lessons.
It is obvious that no two cultures will mesh completely and seamlessly. But with persistence, each becomes a small part of the other over time; mixing, fusing, and merging together and taking chosen traits from the other to make their own. Both sides benefit from this mutual embrace of diversity, and ultimately from its lesson of humility and respect.
Mark is the perfect guest, thanks in part to Jiang Xi, and in part to his deep desire to be with Mei. The others may not notice, but she can sense it coming from him in waves. In the recent months, she had returned to her reclusive ways, even defying her parent’s wishes for her to meet a wealthy young man from a nearby village. But when Jaing Xi came to announce Mark’s surprise visit, she allowed herself to  feel hope once again. Mei serves dinner to those seated in order from oldest to youngest. She takes her seat opposite Jiang Xi and next to her mother; with her father at the head of the table. Mei has never had much patience for all of the stuffy tradition and formality, and this night is no different. So when Mark finally asks for approval to marry Mei, and her father enthusiastically agrees, she decides that she has had enough of the uptight theatrics for one evening, and runs to embrace Mark while squealing with excitement.
It is when the two opposing sides of a culture come into direct confrontation with one another and clash, that the very worst traits of sims emerge. Perhaps disdain for the beliefs of the other is to blame; dismissing centuries of cherished tradition as rubbish. Or it may be that those same traditions are overly harsh, rigid, or oppressive and any opposing ideas are dismissed out of hand. It is likely a combination of both. Regardless, there are few avenues for resolution once the conflict has reached a particular juncture.
Ciara drives home with Jacob and Yasmeen, fighting to hide the overwhelming surge of dread that has dominated her thoughts for the past week. She battles her anxiety as it forces its way up from her core and forms a lump in her throat. She knows this feeling. It happened when her parents died, and again when her sister died. It hung with her all throughout her years of private schooling at the convent in France. Seeing Jacob and Yasmeen together reminds her of the times she and David had as teens. But this little bit of happiness cannot break through the thick cloud of nervousness surrounding the feeling that her luck has finally run out.
The cultures who manage to peacefully navigate their differences, fears, and misunderstandings will survive and grow together. With the barriers broken down, and the differences communicated effectively, any distrust between the two eventually vanish. Even if some beliefs are incompatible, each side learns to make concessions to accommodate the greater good.
The ceremony is held in a remote garden outside of town. It is small, and consists only of Mei’s immediate family plus the bride and groom. She is dressed in formal red from head to toe. And he is likewise dressed in formal blue. Both Mark and Mei take note of Jiang Xi’s amusing demeanor during the entire thing; he evidently is quite pleased with himself. Mei smiles knowingly at her wise and aged grandfather. After seeing his work come to fruition today, he has every right to a small measure of gloating. There is a banquet being held in their honor at the town center after the ceremony . But unlike the intimate exchange in the garden, it is a massive thing that everybody from the village seems to attend. After what seems like an eternity, Mark escapes with is bride to the base camp where he is staying.
They enter the private suite quietly. There is no awkwardness or hesitation about what follows. It is conducted with the dignity and respect they had always given to each other, though it is unlike any exercise they had practiced together in the past. It is a thing of perfect balance and unity; as if somehow their years of training together have been in preparation for this. Through their training, they have each memorized how the other moves and reacts. This knowledge serves them well, as their movements become fluid and in flawless unison; anticipating, accommodating, and reciprocating the other. The spirit of exploration and discovery drives them through the night. And while the spirit is still willing, their bodies eventually come to rest.
Those that cannot coexist descend together into a deadly spiral; ending, at times, with incensed extremists preying upon those who are considered weak or depraved.
In one situation, it is a storybook beginning.
In another situation, it is a brutal and violent end.
For the Barimen family, it is a moment of truth upon which hinges the future, and quite possibly, the survival of the legacy.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 3.18 – Cultures

  1. I LOVE THIS CHAPTER! Oh man. Oh man! OH MAN! I wanna know what happens next already! Excellent blend of good and bad. Your writing is beautiful and had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. I cannot wait for the next update!


  2. Wow, this was such an amazing chapter to read. You really have created a perfect balance within the story. I think I felt tears coming with those last pictures. I knew it was coming, but I really didnt want to think it would happen. T.T


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