Gathering

Like yesterday it feels,

we gathered in halls, leaped into each other’s classrooms

has time really passed?

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My People

I scan the room, apprehensive,
these are my people
are they my people?
will they be like those Indian girls who made me feel like an outsider for not being Indian enough?
These are my people,
a room full of my people
my
people
here
together
same
different
gathered in this tiny meeting room.

We–are carrying with us boxes upon boxes of memories
memories of two separate lives: one in the majority, completely assimilated, American;
one in the minority, within our tiny, full homes, eating with our hands, chappal at the door, Indian.

Inside this tiny meeting room,
we
are
the story
The one I was so certain was mine alone,

My people
this group
of teachers
of South Asian
affinity
of diverse experiences that somehow sound the same

We gathered today
shared our shared tales of it all
family expectations, racism endured,
hopes and dreams for our students and the future
laid it bare for each other to see

If you could have seen it,
you would have been afraid of the power that rippled from the vibrations of our lips,
you would have shuddered at the sound of our feet standing together.

Hello! Old Friend

Today I greeted an old friend and it made miss, long for the past—all those too hot summers and pool side reads, the softer winters and smooth drawl of every encounter, the twenty-six year old me hopelessly searching for balance as a new teacher, the rich simple flavors that changed my palate forever.

Today I was greeted by an old friend and the encounter, though left me longing, also reminded me that I remain an outsider here for my last name will be mispronounced over and over again without an attempt at doing it right.

I miss you old friend and I don’t miss you.

Guardian of Stories.

I inhale              your stories straight               to my bloodline,
into my heart.
It’s a bias, a cloudy blur of–
I get you, I know you, this is a story the world needs to read.

I gather the troops and we circle,
asking questions of how to make it the best it can be
compelling, genuine, engaging, touching, clear.

Through it all, weeks, months, days,

I                 am                    you:
I live your story, eat it, breathe it, sleep with it
it is absorbed through my skin to my muscle into my marrow.
For                your stories
they
matter.

I must honor them, hold them with care, share them just right.

I am           the guardian        of      your story!

Thanksgivings Past

Every year I prep for our dinner of two,
a tradition we built, just us two
I used to float around the kitchen a zing of energy,
visions of presenting each dish for us two,
a family of two.

Now, I make these same dishes and instead of energy, memories float in:
that time my brother cooked up Pakistani goat curry instead of turkey
and although it was deliciously, it felt somehow lesser than without the bird
the time, same chef, decided to cover turkey in cayenne pepper only,
that first Thanksgiving I made boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing
the year I used my best friend’s grandmother’s yam casserole recipe–this one stuck for almost a decade and even though I don’t make it now, I miss it every year
the time we took a Thanksgiving cooking class and vowed to never take a cooking class again, but came home with a new appreciation for cranberry sauce
the time we hosted my pal and her husband and had baklava for dessert
the time we hosted my other pal and his then boyfriend, now husband, and had sweet potato pie and lemon pie for dessert and breakfast the next day
the time I, an Indian immigrant, answered questions about how to make the best turkey to my American married couple–each giving us a tiny glimpse into their marriage in the conference call

It’s easy to consider all the that’s lacking this time year,
Because boy did I dream the dreams as a kid: a kitchen filled with children
cooking together, laughter, mess, a lovely cacophony of loud voices

But then, I laugh out loud alone, in my silent kitchen
at the memory upon memory of Thanksgivings past

Each fills me, over and over.

Feed

At the bottom of my stomach, not my heart, is where I warm at the sight of you.

You whom I held as babies—who won’t, don’t remember me, let alone know me; for I am an apparition who sends you mail every now and then.

But those photos, the ones your mothers fill my feed with, they melt me, warm me, make me woozy.

I never knew I’d love like this – so fiercely

I never knew I’d want to teach you, hug you, protect you, love you, know you

Yet each year passes and all I know is you are growing quickly, without me in your feed.

The distance across these plains swirl in my stomach everytime I see a photo of your sweet faces…in my feed.

Before Sunrise

The crisp cool air catches my cheeks,
like a mother holding the face of her child in her palms–
I gaze back into her eyes:
A slow and gentle awakening

It is almost dawn,
darkness permeates the street

My footsteps echo,
their paws pitter patter,
they rustle the leaves that cover our road

My brain yearns to make lists,
plan out all the tasks that need to be completed by sunset,
but I resist,
focusing instead on the chill and how alive I feel.

I walk, we walk, while the neighborhood sleeps
Like rulers of this kingdom taking a celebratory stroll

With the quiet air,
I am at once free of and full with
 the strings that tie me down, yet warm me up.