It is Sunday afternoon. The overhead fan struggles to stir the air. I am sprawled on my bed watching Laddu sleep. She is sucking on her thumb as her body rises and falls with a rhythm. I should be napping with her but I am awake, alert. I scroll through my timeline on Twitter. It is filled with author angst, racial angst and adoptee angst. Three things that seem to be common amongst the people I follow. I flick through political memes and feel something akin to revulsion at some. After a while it gets boring and I put my phone away and listen for sounds from the twins’ bedrooms. A faint music haunts the air. I know they are watching videos on the iPad but I feel too lazy to get up and confiscate it.
One particular thread on Twitter about Dru.mpf refuses to leave my head. I give in and wonder when I started caring about politics instead. I have been apathetic most of my life. Growing up, I could care less about who assumed office at the state or national level. Assassinations and emergency rule were vague news items that percolated down to my young ears. Events. News. It hardly occurred to me that this involved actual people. People like me.
Perhaps it is that I am adult now. Perhaps, some corner of my brain realizes that part of being an adult means having a say in what the world around me decides to do. Perhaps, having children makes me care. I have no clue what it is but I find myself shaken by things like adoptees having to fight to have their birth records unsealed or having citizenship granted to them. It hurts me to see Presidential candidates being opening racist and bigoted. I bothers me when people I know and care about make flippant statements about voting for Tr.ump if Clin.ton is the nominee. I tell myself the only thing I can do is show up and make my vote count and (hopefully) influence others around me to do the same.
Thoughts meander down to news about the RBI governor in India stepping down. I skim, listen half heartedly and give up after a while. It will be fifteen years since I moved to the US. The first few years were all about assimilating. It was about bringing home here. It was about surrounding myself with Indian artifacts, catching up on news about India and being very alert about all things immigration. It was about recreating food and memories in an alien setting.
I look around now and see a conspicuous absence of Tanjore paintings and Batik print on the walls. My pantry boasts Taco seasoning, Italian herbs and pasta amidst the predominantly Indian spices. My closet has very few kurtis and the saris are relegated to a corner. The cultural associations are fewer. Overt assertion of my Indian-ness very rare.
I realize it is because the things I fought against are the things I enjoy now. Instead of trying to assimilate and obliterate one identity in favor of another, I have learned to embrace my mixed identity. I no longer feel conscious about standing out. India and the US are kind of like my home and marital home. They co-exist, graciously assuming their place in my head and heart without jostling for attention.
It is in the food I eat, in the scents that remind me of people. Sandalwood and spices, cheese and olive oil. It is in the red, blue and white tees I pick up at the store every summer. It is in the mangoes I source from the local Indian store. It is in scouting for unique favors for Navrathri and in scouring the malls for teacher gifts for Christmas.
Home is a feeling. One I carry with me.