As a Tamil American, I Wish Never Have I Ever Was Around When I Was Younger

When I was in fifth grade, there was this boy who wouldn’t stop asking me about India. Every day, he’d appear with a new question: Had I ever ridden an auto rickshaw? Did I love samosas? What was pani puri? I never gave him any answers. I was so offended by his questions that I gathered my friends to plot a prank against him (a prank involving a pen cap, which, long story short, did not succeed).

As one of few Indians in a predominantly white school, I was afraid that he was making fun of me. I was afraid that he was joking, and that he’d start laughing at me with his friends if I answered his questions. I liked auto rickshaws. I didn’t want him to laugh about it.

It wasn’t that this boy had ever said anything bad to me about Indian culture, but he treated it as foreign, unique, something to draw attention to. To a ten-year-old whose greatest fear was not fitting in, this boy was a nightmare.

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