Spoiler alert: This blog is about the movie “Farewell” starring Aquafina. She plays the part of a granddaughter who finds out her grandmother in China is dying. The family gathers for a wedding, but doesn’t tell the grandmother that she is dying. Billi played by Aquafina wants to tell her and can’t understand why they don’t tell her.
Her uncle says to her, you have grown up in America, “you think one’s life belongs to oneself. But that is the difference between East and West. In the East, a person’s life is part of a whole, family and society, you want to tell Nai Nai (grandmother) the truth, because you’re afraid to take responsibility for her. Because it’s too big of a burden. If you tell her then you don’t have to feel guilty. We are not telling Nai Nai because it’s our duty to carry this emotional burden for her.”
I like the character of Billi, because she is a young girl caught between two cultures. She is beginning to understand the truth of life and death. Her love for her grandmother and saving her the pain of truth conflicts with her sense of what is true and real. He uncle shares with her a truth that we are all part of a whole, but at the same time makes the assumption that his mother cannot handle the truth of impermanence.
It is true that we are all connected, we are a part of a family, a society. However, denying the truth of death is denying life itself. If we teach each other that life and death are like two sides of a coin, each complimenting the other, when we are confronted with death we will be more accepting. Our struggle like Billi in the film, is accepting that truth. The Dharma taught to us by the Buddha, teaches us that our suffering begins with a failure to see life as it truly is.