Children Again

January 5, 2009
More by this author
Part I
He’s a good boy. He has manners. He speaks Hindi better than the kids here do. But he’s not ours. How can I change that? He’s not Chandni’s. He’s no one’s. Why should we do charity? They call me tactless? There he comes holding Chandni’s hand, his little blond head bobbing up and down. And she expected me to do what? Hug him? Kiss him and hold him as I do with my other grandchildren? No. He’s a stranger. He’ll remain that. His blood is different from mine, and I’ll never accept his blood to be mine. A signature on a piece of paper does not change blood.

Mommy says this where she and daddy grew up. I like it. But it’s different. Everyone speaks Hindi, and they listen to Hindi music. In my school, I’m the only Indian person. My teachers say I’m not even Indian. I told mommy. She said they’re lying.

Everyone’s nicer here, except nani. Mommy says she loves me, she’s just different. She’s mean to me. She doesn’t smile. And when I hugged her like mommy told me to, she just ignored me. I felt sad. Maybe she’s just shy. Mommy says I was like that too, when I was little.

Oh yeah. Mommy’s not really mommy. I’m adopted. I don’t know what that means, but I think it means something bad.

When he hugged me, it touched me. It really did. This little white boy comes and hugs me like I’m his own. He calls me nani. Not directly, he hasn’t spoken to me, but I’ve heard him talk to Chandni. Nani. I’ve craved to hear that word spoken to me. And here I heard it, but it’s from the wrong person.

Am I bad person for thinking this? I think not. Really. I don’t think so. I can’t change reality.

Then one afternoon when I was on the roof terrace, the secret hideout I retire to every evening, and he came. He came and stood next to me. And he said, “Namaste, nani.” Perfect accent.

I couldn’t help it. I heard that word nani again, and this time it wasn’t from the wrong person. It was from the perfect person.

I took him into my arms. “Beta,” I said, “I missed you.”

Part II

What wouldn’t I do for those little hands to fit snugly into my palms? To hear that little boy call me “nani.” He doesn’t remember. Of course he doesn’t. He was five. But doesn’t he realize I still love him?

Chandni says it’s because he’s white “by blood.” He wants his real culture. I don’t think so. He’s Indian. And it doesn’t even matter does it? He’s a good boy. He just doesn’t know about what we used to share. He’ll remember. One day.

It’s not his skin. I know it isn’t. An Indian “by blood” would do the same. I saw that Chopra boy strut around the place which his ten-sizes-too-big jeans. Not much better than our Veer. Worse actually.
At least Veer’s clothes fit.

How the hell do people live in this place? And why the hell do these people want me to talk to them so badly.

I don’t want to talk to you.

I’m not here because of you. I’m here because I was forced to come here. I don’t plan on changing that. How can she just drag me anywhere? Doesn’t she realize it’s not because I’m adopted. I just don’t like it here. I don’t belong hereThe Indians “by blood” aren’t much better. It’s not like they go around with Indian flags.

If she wanted me to be like these people so badly, why didn’t she just bring me here when I was little? I would’ve grown up to be just like them.

And that woman. Nani. I don’t care if were best friends when I was five. I’m not five anymore. Why doesn’t she just leave me alone?

I was just finishing my afternoon chai when he came. He was five years old again, and I was his hero. He didn’t know I would be there. He was about to leave when he saw me, but then he stopped. He stopped and he walked up to me, and said, softly, “Namaste, nani.”

And in that moment, I was transportedback ten years, when my back didn’t hurt and I could walk up the stairs without having to stop on the fifth step.

We both were children again.

I hugged him, and he reluctantly returned it.

“Nani,” he said, his voice hoarse, “let’s go to the park.”

Tears came to my eyes, unannounced, and we walked, hand-in-hand.

Join the Discussion

This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

mmleen said...
Jan. 11, 2009 at 5:04 am
Wow, this piece is amazing! I like how you took a part of your culture and adapted the concept to make it your own. Very interesting composition!!
heyheyhey said...
Jan. 10, 2009 at 9:25 pm
i really liked the different facets to this piece. i loved the wonderful contrast in part 1 and part 2, and likewise in the characters. this piece is truly excellent.
emilysonn:] said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 3:52 am
i really liked this, it made me want to read this book. it didnt give away so much that i wouldn't be interested in it. this made me want to read it. good description in the beginning, made me curious what this was about.
selsheryie said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 3:36 am
This piece is one of great intricacy and is well thought out. The creativity is phenomenal. The plot line is intriguing keeping the reader constantly moving through the engaging events.
MADDIEEE. said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 2:48 am
this piece was great. the details made it amaizing and very interesting to read. i loved the first part where its mysterious yet drags you into the story. the culture you added showed great voice. i loved it(:
wilcyn said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 12:39 am
This is sooooo unlike anything I've ever read. You've worked on this and it's evident; the slight switches in point of view are wonderful and down right to the "t". I can't wait to read more...tear-jerking and wondefully woven to the last chai. Splendid writing; I'd love to see more.
Blake1600 said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 12:08 am
I really liked the contrasting and intertwining people. They almost meld together into a single entity, which makes the story more unique.
somewon723 said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm
hey. i really like the way this story switches points of view and how the voices are so different. i really liked the contrast. it was also very realistic. good job!
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