5.24.2018

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet 128

Here are two excerpts from a book I recently read, "One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter," by Scaachi Koul:



My friends had white names—Jennifer, Kayla, Kellie, Molly, Kirsten—names my parents made fun of because what do those names even mean? A loaded question, considering the name they gave me barely makes sense to other brown people. When we were in India in the early aughts, Chacha told me that Kayla, or kela, means “banana” in Hindi, and when I took that information back to my friend, we laughed for a solid school year. I had a funny name, and teachers and the parents of other kids always asked: “Where are you from?” I learned fast that the correct answer wasn’t “I take the E bus and I’m the second to last stop and that’s where I live,” but rather “My parents are Indian immigrants.” With that answer, their faces would light up and they’d say, “Oh, I hear India is amazing! Does your mom make curry?” Then I would shrug and say, yeah, sure, I guess she does, but isn’t that like me asking if your mom boils water?



When I visit home, then, I live out of a suitcase, and, since the house hardly looks the same, I listen for sounds that remind me that this is home. Mom closes the glass door of her shower: that is morning. Papa flicks on the radio: that is early afternoon. His armchair creaks and snaps to bring up the leg rest: that’s late afternoon. A pressure cooker screams in the kitchen: it’s almost dinnertime. The curtains are closed in the living room and it sounds like soft strips of fabric are being gently torn: my parents are going to bed. My apartment doesn’t have these same sounds; instead, my sounds are a cat pawing through her food bowl, the front door being locked, the swish of sheets being readjusted. These sounds don’t feel the same. They don’t feel as comforting, because they are mine, are my responsibility, while the ones at home are my parents’—the promise that everything is fine, consistent, safe at home.
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