A Citizen of Nowhere
Updated: Feb 5
Every once in a while I feel like I don't belong anywhere.
Coming home from school, I started using all the cuss words I learned at school and my mom rebuffed me. In high school, girls had started pulling their socks down and skirts up, but my mom made sure my socks were new so I couldn't claim they were too short. My skirt reached my knees and I always had to wear a slip over my bra underneath my white shirt. My mom dressed me like she was dressed by her mom in days of her all-girls school. But I was in a co-ed! At fourteen, when I had my first date, I was dressed like a girl stuck between wanting to impress her boyfriend and her boyfriend's mother at the same time. I wasn't among the backbenchers of the classroom and I wasn't a nerd either. I was a person who belonged nowhere or perhaps, it was rather a beginning of feeling that way.
When I came to Germany, all the things that made me feel at home slipped away even more. Suddenly, my name was odd. Black hair was odd. My accent was odd. A guy had said to me, 'There's no such thing as black eyes. Your eyes must be dark brown.' I remember how closely and deeply I looked at myself in the mirror that night. I had black eyes.
After five years, I returned to my homeland and all the things I used to associate to a home changed once again. I no longer felt at home where I came from. My throat burned with the spices of my own land. The sun was too bright. The roads were too noisy. People were too creepy. My parents were constantly worried if I didn't come home by seven. My home was now defined by a whole other dimension. Somewhere where a person in a car would stop to let pedestrians cross the road. No one would bat an eye if I wore something that showed my skin. And where my family didn't have to worry every time I went out. A room that was my home now with pictures of my family. Maybe I was more used to missing them than being with them and I liked it that way. Though on some days I didn't.
For the first time in my life, I was rootless. I only needed wings to fly.
I began looking for people who also had moving homes like me. And then I stumbled upon a wonderful book. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I hadn't heard of the author before but then I found she has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, so I figured she is kind of a big deal in the writing business. And she truly is amazing.
In this short post, I spanned my entire life. Jhumpa Lahiri, on the other hand, produced a book of two ninety-one pages, just about a boy born to Bengali parents, who hates his awkward name in America. The boy goes on a journey to find his identity that he later realizes depends on so much more than a name. The boy who is as rootless as you and me.
I am reading this book right now and already loving it. I couldn't wait to share it with you all. If you want a good read today, this is the book to pick.
Little Thing of the Month: Rootlessness