Chapter 3

“Don’ play with your food dear, there’s a good girl. If you don’t want it leave it on your plate,” An gently scolded Mai, again.

“Mother?” asked Mai, with a tone of voice that tried to patronizingly emphasize that An wasn’t her intellectual equal.

“Yes pet,” answered An. “What is it?”

“I’m not trying to be some sort of iconoclast or anything. I know you don’t agree with me that members of our society must to a large extent be a product of the environment we inhabit and experience. Surely though, our surroundings must have some impact on our development!” Mai was in an argumentative mood.

“Minimally pet, yes they do. But everybody is destined to be who they are, and act as they do, because of their bloodline and inherited characteristics. There’s no arguing with heredity,” said An hugging her little girl from behind, as she sat at the dinner table.

“I can’t agree,” countered Mai, “contact, influence and experience must be what shape us,” was the retort of a very confident sounding little girl.

“You have my nose and you father’s smile. Everybody says they can tell whose family you belong to,” condescendingly smiled An, as if talking to a small child, which in fact she was.

“The same can’t be said for my brother Im. And where does his twin Ky fit in? As far as I can tell he doesn’t meet the criterion either.” Mai sensed she had her mother on the ropes and used an unfair, sarcastic sounding ‘I know I’m right’ diphthong as she emphasized the last word of each sentence.

“Physical looks don’t always pass from generation to generation. It’s in your blood. If your father was a stonemason, you would become a stonemason. If your father was a farmer, you would become a farm…”

“…That’s circumstances,” Mai started to get annoyed. “Not inherited characteristics. I still feel we reproduce what life shows us, not simply follow how we’re supposedly programmed to react.”

“Care to elaborate on that pet?” said a bemused An, trying to force her naturally talented daughter to marshal and deliver her thoughts succinctly.

“We’ve already discovered that inheritance doesn’t account for hair or eye color – re: Im. Our whole family is a prime example of that. Height and weight also have nothing to do with inherited genes. I’m tall and skinny or short and fat because of nutritional factors, not because of the genetics inherited from you or father,” condescendingly pointed out Mai,

“Interesting point,” conceded An.

“As I see it, the dichotomy between nurture and nature doesn’t necessarily have to be so climacteric. Surely there must be aspects of both theories that are cognizant?” Finally, offered Mai.

An had the feeling her daughter was winning this debate, so it was no surprise when the tactic of changing the subject, used by all moms when cornered, was employed. “Anyway, what about your little friend? The one you met at school last week? Are you bringing her home again for the family evening meal tomorrow?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“She’s dead.” Mai matter of factly stated. “Got dragged into The Nile by a croc on the way home from dance yesterday.”

“Oh er, never mind pet. These things happen.” Replied a sorry but not surprised An, not quite sure what to say next.

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