I grew up in the in-between: white, Hispanic, a pigment of mixtures that blended unevenly.
In Hindi, you don’t say ‘sorry;’ you ask for forgiveness. So, growing up, I made the mistake of apologizing for who I am.
I felt my mom’s grip tighten around my hand as dozens surged across the Rio Grande, the water waist-high. Adults held children in their arms or carried them in rebozos across their backs. We watched as the Border Patrol agents caught and detained some people while dozens more ran past.
German chemists. They empowered us, they ruined us, they controlled so very much.
How two diasporas shaped who I am.
“When you’ve spent your life apart from a loved one, what prepares you for not knowing how to mourn?”
Raji Lian, my great-grandfather, came over from Syria in 1899.
Each time I am lured by the mirage of progress, someone knocks at the door and I am reminded of being thirteen and having nightmares about ICE at our door.
Luis received the first coins he had ever held. “Keep these safe,” the man said. “You’ll need them.”
After immigrating from Finland, I adopted Florida and all its freaks, swindlers, addicts, and charismatic criminals.
Patois was our secret, allowing us to be in the English world and then escape to Jamaica through language.
Often we only talk about what the immigrant gains, or what they “take.” We don’t consider what they have left behind.
The first time my grandfather crossed the India-Pakistan border was in 1947; the next time he crossed was in 2007, with me.