Lessons of life: The lesson of the hug

By Eddy Montilla.

Yesterday, I saw a mother walked a couple of meters away from her little daughter to make space first and later, they both ran to hold each other in a warm embrace: A sublime example of what sublime and maternal love means. At dusk, I found myself in front of a situation very different from the first story: When a twelve-year-old boy tried to hold his mother’s hand, she replied, unable to hide her annoyance, in this way: “Don’t touch me! Kimochi warui (That’s unpleasant and weird). The first thing that came to my mind was a very simple question: “How can a mother deny her son a simple hug?”

Since I was a child, I have been living immersed in cross-cultural environment and that’s why I weigh things first, carefully considered them from the place and point of view of those people who did them instead of making value judgements from my own culture. In Japan, for example, physical contact is almost imperceptible and the family circle size is so small that can be drawn with a penny. Customs, other people’s eyes, what people might think and the acceptance of social rules without being able to reply exerted undoubtedly a strong influence on that mother’s decision.

Once at home, I was thinking about all the times I have been back to my country and how police officers struggled trying to persuade an old man to wait behind the line until the passengers left through the exit door. As soon as he saw his son, another old man, he ran to hug and kiss him. And when the police officers told him: “You can’t do that, sir. Are we getting through to you?”, he replied: “Yes, but I don’t know how to make you understand that my son has returned home. I have to hug him.” That old man is my father and, his son is, therefore, the person who is writing these lines to you.

I did not judge the last mother’s action when she decided not to give a hug to her son as neither a good nor a bad stance. Last night, the only thing I did was to sleep happily. I was happy for the family I have and, above all, for the kind of relationship we have because we were born, grew up and will die expressing in an internal and external way what is, in our opinion, the meaning of family love through its best symbol: Hugs and kisses.

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