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Grade
11

an ode to my culture.

I never felt an obligation to be Indian,

to defend my ethnicity.

the sinking feeling at the bottom of my stomach

urging me to defend my background was

non ex i s t  e nt.

I was aware my parents were Indian.  

it is apparent in the way they hold themselves,

woven into the occasional mispronounced word

leaving her country wasn’t easy for my mother

I still find her searching for it in foreign films and the international foods at Costco.

yet, I was different.

I was American.

I have rich, thick black hair.

 

let me start over.

 

I listened to Taylor Swift and the newest playlists;

I went to parties with my white friends;

I cheered and whooped like the rest of my classmates at local football games.

my friends consistently referred to me as

“the whitest brown person.”

and I wore that label with pride,

hopeful it would someday seep into my genes

tell my skin that it was incorrect.

and I’ve never said those words out loud.

I didn’t so much reject my heritage as I ignored it.

My hair isn’t black anymore

Caramel brown highlights

 

why should I carry the weight of a hundred years of history on already heavy shoulders, especially if it was not mine?

 

let me start over.

 

an ode to my grandmother.

I am the first woman in my lineage

with the complete freedom to choose,

to paint her future whichever way I desire

and say what is on my mind at any moment in time.

without the whip of the lash.

there are thousands of firsts which I am thankful for.

my mother and her mother and her mother were not allowed

the privilege of feeling.

what an honor.

to be the first woman in her family who gets to

taste her desires.

no wonder I am craving

to fill up on this life.

I have generations of empty stomachs to fill up for.

the grandmothers in the afterlife must be engulfed with laughter,

seated around a mud stove

sipping sweet glasses of steamy, milky masala chai.

how wild it must be for them to see one of their own living so boldly.

 

let me start over.

 

an ode to families like mine.

perhaps we are all immigrants

constantly trading one home for another.

we leave the womb for air first,

then to the hustling city from the suburbs,

in search of a better life.

some of us just happen to leave entire countries.

 

let me start over.

 

an ode to women.

I stand on the tallest mountain

on the shoulders of the women before me

thinking,

what can I do to surpass the highest altitude,

so the women after me can leap farther.

I call this an ode

but was too afraid to show anyone.

start over and perhaps there will be a world

where I am able to love myself.

 

an ode to myself.

 

let me start over.

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48105