Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on unsplash
The Time My Colleague Saw Me Eating Chana Masala in the Breakroom and Said, "Here in America, We Eat Our Lunch Between Two Slices of White Bread"
I felt a gentle nudge to relax and let it slide,
like, hey, it's just me: your funny, no-filter
work friend who shoots from the hip, but
I'm actually a good person... I mean,
you know I was joking, right?
Like when you asked if English was my first language,
or whether I celebrate the 4th of July:
the same constellation of whiteness
that loves my accent and doesn't see me as different,
while sharpening the first-person plural
like a blade, while gnawing me to pieces
until I'm strange in my skin.
And you? You make yourself strange as well:
so desperate to keep your world washed-out,
as white bread loses its grip in America.
Work friend, you need to get out more often.
Drop by my house for a desi lunch!
Settle in with a shandy or Cutty Sark.
Grab a roti, paratha, puri, or naan
to cradle a brimming bite of haleem,
or to gather and pinch the last of your chana,
softening against the char of the bread.
Pull it apart, feel it tear between your fingers:
that piece in your hand is everything.
Slices of white bread can't close around curry,
but that's okay. They don't have to.
Here in America, relax, we've got you.