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Liquid Gold

BY ALINA GAO


Asia is a place of familial expectations

Regal temples were built on the backs of our ancestors, the weight being transferred to us in the form of heavy expectations

We left the rural countrysides for a country of opportunities, small markets replaced with bustling malls where men in business suits bump into you without looking back Families put a legacy on their children, salvaged from all the dreams they sacrificed

“You can do better”

“Go study, you don’t have time to play”

“You should start preparing for university”

The phrases of my childhood slowly build up

To 18 extracurriculars and a constant tight feeling in my chest

I am held to a higher standard than my peers

I bear the weight of my family’s need to succeed

To survive in this foreign country where they have to rely on their children to understand legal documents

And communicate with teachers and store managers

I am held to a higher standard because my parents sacrificed more

They sacrificed more than they’ll ever tell me and then some

To escape a country that was drowning in inequality, one that would not receive me kindly

If even at all (my oldest sister was the only one that belonged)

They did it out of their best intent

But I’m still suffocating, choking on the gold and paper wads you’ve stuffed into my mouth

And told me to chase

Expectations are like liquid gold that easily turn solid when I stay still for too long

Shimmery and glistening

The expectations are pretty, but they’re only that

The weight bends me, almost breaking

Even when I heave it off with deep breathing exercises and mindful meditation

Because Asia is a place of familial expectations

And it will always exist inside me

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