Monday, August 27, 2012

Openings - Part Three

Her friends at school were of a variety of backgrounds who introduced her to pop music, other ethnic foods, colorful sugary drinks that her family could not afford to purchase.  She watched some of them smoke or swallow colorful pills after which, they acted goofy.  Sira began to converse in her new language and sampled some of the exotic things offered to her.  Her gut directed her to focus elsewhere, strive to be the star she was on the neighborhood soccer field back in her home country, to outshine the weak, and move forward.  She concluded that having a command on English will be her ticket to move forward.

She asked her English teacher for extra work and during her long lonely evenings at home, she practiced to perfect her new language.  In just a matter of two years, she was promoted to the mainstream class for her age with her parents completely unaware of her achievement.  Around the same time that she received this great news at school, her family suffered an even more devastating blow.  Her father lost one leg due to an accident on the construction site.

Staying home in frustration and pain, Sira’s father became depressed.  His friends brought him alcohol to cheer him up and before long the bottle became his new best friend.  Sira’s mother took up an additional job and her total income was just enough to pay the rent.  Food and new clothes became a luxury.  Sira spent longer days in the company of her alcoholic father who became verbally abusive over time.  Her mother was either absent or tired and they all were always hungry.  Sira began to eat only half of her lunch from the school lunch program, her only meal of the day, and brought the rest home for her parents.  The family found they were in a situation worse than before coming to America.

To be continued………

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Openings - Part Two

Sira had never sat anywhere but the floor.  The yellowish sofa in her new grandmother’s apartment felt soft on her tiny bottom.   She bounced her body and heard springy sounds coming from under her.  Soles of her feet glided on the rough weaves of the dark green carpet.  She noticed a large stain in front of her where the threads had hardened.  In the corner of the room was a square box that had colorful moving pictures in it and funny sounds came from it.  Sira’s eyes stayed glued to this new magical box and she was hooked.  She didn’t notice over several weeks when her parents left, when they returned and danced jubilantly in turn when each had found a job.  Within months Sira left her new chubby jovial grandmother to move into a new apartment her parents secured.

The first time Sira stepped onto the school yard, her eyes grew wider and wider as she took in all the playground equipment, basketball hoop, swings and slides, clean and paved open space to run around in.  She sat in the classroom on a chair attached to a desk and admired the beautiful clothes on all the children around her unaware, that she was causing discomfort to them with her stares that were held too long.  Her grandmother and aunt had given her two new dresses and Sira wore them with extra care.  She sat carefully and deliberately to avoid any wrinkles and controlled her strong urge to play on the swings to avoid it from getting dirty.  When teachers came into the classroom one by one to teach their respective subjects, she regarded them with awe.  She carefully watched their mouths move not understanding a word that came out them.

Over the next few days and weeks, Sira found friends who could speak her language.  They introduced her to new words in English which she soaked up thirstily for more.  She went home excited to share her new words only to be greeted with disappointment of facing an empty home.  Her mother worked the evening shift at a hotel while her father worked at a construction site during the day and in an ethnic restaurant at night.  Sira celebrated her 11th birthday in her lonely apartment after school over a slice of stale bread.  Grandmother had promised to stop by but never showed up.  Sira turned on the magic box and watched an animated cat chase a mouse around, momentarily forgetting her loneliness.

 To be continued………

Monday, August 13, 2012

Openings - Part One

The ball touched her foot, spun in the air appearing to be suspended in space as if a planet.  It continued its momentum towards its target landing right in the top corner inside the goal post.  Through the haze of dust rising from her feet she saw her teammates jump up in joy.  Sounds of cheer and boos made way into her ears.  Sira had once again helped the boys of her zone beat the boys of the neighboring settlement.  Smiling she pushed away her short scraggly hair from her face and looked at her dusty feet with darkened toenails.  Running a quick hand over her nose and wiping it off the seat of her scruffy, discolored dress, she waved to the boys and headed home.

Sira heard her grandmother’s voice reach her ears before turning the corner.  Sitting on the ground outside, grandma had her daily collection from the garbage dump in front of her.  As she sifted through it for the more worthy finds from the rest, her words flew in the air as staccato notes spewing out in quick succession.  Sira’s mother sat quietly in her corner washing the meager dishes in blackish water.  Spotting Sira, the older woman pleaded for the granddaughter to fight her battle, to beg the mother to not take this old woman’s son so far way.

Sira looked from wrinkled face to a stern one trying to comprehend.  Her mother stood up, dishes cleaned as much as was possible, and walked indoors into their one room shack.  Sira followed quietly towards the far corner, away from her uncle’s and his family’s side.  She tugged on her mother’s rags that attempted to cover her body and asked what grandmother was talking about.  Her mother explained that the three of them, Sira and her parents were going to America.  Her other grandmother had arranged for a green card and they were to leave the next day.  The journey will be long, by land, by boat and then by land again and Sira had to be on her best behavior.  No, she could not take her cousins or other relatives or friends with her but she had more relatives and cousins in America, her mother’s side of the family.

To Be Continued......

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

SOULMATE - Conclusion

I confronted my mother as soon as the door was shut and all she did was glance towards my father and burst into tears. The ride was short and soon we found ourselves in my apartment. I had asked Divya to bring her family there before we head out for dinner but they hadn’t arrived yet. I confronted my mom again and she stared down at her shoes, moving one foot from one side to another. An unfamiliar feeling, an emotion I rarely felt surged within me. I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth, the shimmer of my lip gloss almost non-existent by now. The evening had been perfect with the combined show, its success beyond my comprehension, our families by our side and above all, our joint muses fused and integrated in art just as I felt our lives were. I had even ventured out of my comfort zone and adorned a flowing skirt, surprisingly feeling at ease. I was still confused, however by the connection, as if our souls were linked. We had talked about it and she had felt the same confusion, connection, the draw as if we were joined from a past life. Remembering the coincidences of our birthdates and years, I turned to my mother with eyes wide open, my eyeliner making them look larger.

My mother mumbled her confession changing my world forever. Yes, it was true, Divya’s father was my real father, no Divya was not my twin but half-sister, and yes, and my mother had run away from my father when she learned he already had a family in his own country. No, he did not know of my existence and yes the man she married, the one I called dad knew I was not his but loved me nonetheless. I stared, absorbed, tried to remember how to breathe as I pushed my mother away. The buzzer interrupted my breakdown reminding me that my father, real father and my very own sister, the one I was naturally drawn to, the one who was always connected to me through our souls, they were all downstairs waiting to be invited into my apartment, into my life.

I blinked away the surge that had begun to well up in my eyes, took in a few deep breaths, and walked to the buzzer in the tall heels I still had on. A few minutes later I was opening the door to let my new family in, my heart swelling and my eyes sparkling.