In the shelter of family trees


Sunset over Demaring Hill, where Padan Ukab’s ancestors used to roam.

The intimacy of the questions used to surprise me, but I have now become accustomed to being asked who my adoptive parents are or husband is. It’s not inquisitiveness, although it can feel that way to a city person brought up on ideas of individualism. It is, instead, a way of finding out how I fit into the intricate and complex structure of the close-knit community of Ba Kelalan.
Knowing who my adoptive parents are or who my husband is immediately reveals how I’m related to everyone else in the village. And based on that, they can tell how they are related to me.

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