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Essays & Memoir

An Intercourse with Ghosts

Writing Disorder, Dec 2017

At age 25, I live in New Delhi in a hopeless apartment. At night, the ceiling in the bathroom flakes away from its beams. In the morning I find slivers of plaster in the sink. The railing that borders the stairs curls upwards like a witch’s fingernail, and on my birthday (I can’t remember which one) the power goes out, so I eat my cake in the dark. My life feels dark and unmoving, like the green water that gathers in potholes in the street, where mosquitoes breed. I dream that I’m somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else. It’s a dream I’ve had for years, and sometimes I don’t know how to separate the dream from my life.

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Hindi, My Mother Tongue

On She Goes, Nov 2017

For many years, I have been lying on forms. I lied on the forms that got me into college, and again on census forms, and again on countless job applications. My mother began it decades ago when she told me, “Tell people your first language is English.”
This wasn’t always her plan. My first language was Hindi, the curling yet rapid language of Northern India. I spoke Hindi in the suburbs of Chicago in 1985. I spoke it—or tried to—with swimming instructors and neighbors and grocery store checkout clerks until one day a doctor, analytical pencil in hand, said, “Yes, I see she can make sounds, but does she speak words?” My mother recounts this story years later, her sense of injustice and sorrow as strong now as it was then...

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Small Kindness

The Common Online, Dec 2013

A year ago, a girl my age was raped in New Delhi.  Several days later she died of her injuries in a hospital in Singapore.  Her intestines were so badly mangled she would have required a transplant to live.  If she had lived, she would never have eaten without the aid of a tube.
My thoughts about things like this rape are like a tap left on, water running, the small incorrect sound flowing underneath everything as I step into the warm, neon confines of the Dunkin Donuts that has just opened in Green Park, New Delhi, two minutes’ walk from where I live.  New Delhi.  Where, for the past four years, I have been happily living...

Read the rest in "The Common Online."