You are driving in a car with your wife and mother on the way to a party. While crossing a river, another car swerves and causes you to go careening off the edge into the water. As the car is sinking you realize you only have time to save one person, either your mother, or your wife. Whom do you save?
This question was presented to us in a cultural anthropology class I took in college. It was a scenario from a study that had been done some years before. I still remember the Saudi men’s overwhelming majority answer: Mother, of course. You only have one. You can always get another wife.
While I can’t say that answer would come so easily for me (sorry mom?), I like to think the Saudi men’s answers show a deep devotion toward family more so than a lack of concern for a drowning wife…?
As Peace Corps volunteers we’re given 48 days of leave that can be used throughout the two years of service. This time can be used to travel in country, but most people use a lot of their time for out of country travel to neighboring “far-off” places since plane tickets are cheap and, heck! we have the time. At Christmas break and after seven months in country, I was one of only two volunteers who made the trip back to the States. The reasons for not going back were varied: insufficient funds, too soon, rather go somewhere else, and not wanting to see what is being missed. I don’t think there’s a single Peace Corps Volunteer who doesn’t miss friends and family they’ve left behind, but for me, those reasons simply couldn’t hold a candle to how much I missed people back home.
My parents will be my parents for life. My sisters won’t ever stop being my sisters. And because they’re family I want to keep getting to know them and continue these very significant relationships in my life. It was really hard to leave again and return to Kyrgyzstan, but I am so happy for each memory we made back home.
I try to live by few mantras, and “Let the wife drown” certainly hasn’t made the select list. Yet, a piece of paper ripped from a notebook is taped to the wall above my desk. Scrawled there bubble letters it reads, “Call your fam.” It’s a decision I never regret.