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My Heart in India MAG
The people all around us
dictate our places
based on the colors of our faces.
When you look at me, you look at the henna on my hand.
At my long, thick, black hair, dark skin, and brown eyes.
You see the figure-eight nod
and hear the up and down intonation of foreign American words
coming out of lips unaccustomed to the harsh tones of the English language.
“Na-mas-te,” you Americans say, butchering our pronunciation.
Is that all you see?
I am Indian, India-Indian.
The dot, not the feather.
But if you looked closer
In my heart, you'd see.
I'm from a place called India,
where the mountains kiss the heavens and the desert stretches wide.
The smell of fresh daal and chaval creeps under my bedroom door.
With my stomach rumbling like thunder, I roll out of bed and follow the scent downstairs.
Dias, candles, are all over the house. It's Diwali.
So we put out little beacons to attract the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
I have many gods and goddesses watching over me.
(How many do you have?)
We feast. By feast, I mean
a thali of Indian cooking.
My favorite are samosas, little fried triangles stuffed with vegetables.
(I hear my dad say, “They are not triangles. They are triangular prisms!”)
I am one of his prisms
with many faces.
An American face and
an Indian face.
I am one of his reflections.
I believe that
my actions reflect me.
What we do now creates paths for us later.
Even though I really want to slap that prattling girl with the long curly hair
and obnoxiously high-pitched voice,
I stop and think.
This will come back to bite me.
I ignore her instead.
You may call this karma.
I see this as a way of life, a way of being.
(And a way of surviving middle school.)
Survival is no stranger to my family.
To survive for me, my parents sacrificed India.
To survive in America, they kept India in their hearts.
I keep India close as well.
My India is rich in memories earned from our trips,
the trips we take every other year.
my mommy crying tears of joy
at the sight of her home,
racing up the porch steps to see her family.
my daddy embracing his brothers
at the train station
with the kind of bear hug that engulfs your whole body
a cow waiting patiently
in front of our gate.
My sister, my Indian cousins, and I touch
her soft fur.
She moos real slow.
as we feed her lunch.
My Dadi says, “She is, what do you say? Just a little hungry.”
So I would never be even a little hungry,
what my parents gave up.
My heart is from a place called India,
where the soft hum of my Nani's prayers
send me to sleep at night.
My feet are in America,
in the land of the free
and the home of the brave.
But, I will always be connected to
my mother country
(or my mother's country)
by an umbilical cord
which sometimes looks like
a telephone wire
with people calling
in the middle of the night
as the wind blows out the last dia,
signaling the end of Diwali.
“Namaste,” I hear from Indian lips much like my own.
I am home,
With my feet on American ground
And my heart in India.