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California Girl

california girls
i and my friends call ourselves proudly
proud tongue
proud mind
on week days monday i dress for school in my
cute-cut forever 21 tops sleek
black leggings clean
white vans
typical classical stereotypical
hair straightened blonde streaks
tight curls cinched jeans
too tight
chapstick
boys
smile whistle wave
and we california girls
pretend
we are too cool
for them

but
contrary confidential
they do not know
that on weekends i dress for temple
silent
eyes down
respect
in my peachy pink salwar-kameez
or
the patterned chiffon sari
that my nani
grandmother soft hands kind face
not cookies but pakoras
has brought
all the way
countries rivers oceans worlds
from india-
Bharat se


they
could never guess
wildest dreams
that on diwali
dancing
singing
colors
bright
the festival of lights
i put a sparkling bindi on my forehead red
line my eyes in dark kohl midnight black
feed laddu’s and barfi’s and halwa
sweet
tangy
itching tongue small parched lips
to my hordes
of little cousins

that
when my parents are not home
alone silence
waiting
to be filled
i and my sisters
wrap
hand embroidered chunni’s around our heads
punjabi style
draping shimmering
slip on our matching silver jutti’s
jam out to
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge songs
twirling
whirling
clapping
stomping
in the kitchen until
the scent of our sweat
three shining foreheads under flourescent kitchen lights
mingles with
the scent of spices in the pantry-
lal mirch, haldi, jeera


that
i fall asleep almost every warm summer night
mosquitoes landing wearing
a faded green t-shirt that reads
bollywood nights
in cracking splintering butter yellow letters
comfy cozy
not house
but home

that
i speak hindi in this household of all mine
smooth sounds
sharp tongue
and i practice reading and writing
under the watchful eye
owl hawk eagle
of my nani all mine

that
my entire family sings bhajans by heart-strings twanging
at temple peaceful silence
not sound
but rhythm even
my white american father.

that
we laugh we scoff
what a pity
at those california girls
what a shame
who
do not know
too bad
what
they are missing
oh well oh well oh well

because when me myself and i
lead
the new routine of my bollywood dance group
bend shift stretch high-kick now
stalk
hrithik roshan on all the fan-sites
click clack of computer keys
read
every single one of priyanka chopra’s interviews
eyes prying headlines x-rayed
make
round puffy rotis every night for dinner
what a roti beta a bit more work i am thinking
i say-
california girl
hah


because b****es
I Am A Desi Girl
through
and
through




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