Ode to Parrot

Your run-of-the-mill Indian grocery store

“So many varieties of soup, yet they are still throwing some away. America!”

He had an uncanny sense of observation.

To my father, and to my mother later, Sanjay’s strengths were not Indian strengths.

During the summers, Sanjay and I worked full-time at Mom’s Indian grocery in Indianapolis.

All the white kids in our Indiana town drove around blasting Public Enemy. Everything that was out of place, was shaping places in me.

I dwelled on his insult. Sanjay knew more about my college hopes than my mom did.

When Mom first opened the Indian grocery store, my brother and I felt like we were part of some rich family dynasty, like the McDonald’s or Wendy’s family.

Our family lived in Carmel — a sleepy, all-white suburb just north of Indianapolis, or as it had often been dubbed: Indiana-No-Place.

Sanjay probably thought I was naïve because I told him that I longed for city life.

By the end of the summer of 1992, it was my turn to graduate.

Sanjay and Mom dropped me off at the Bloomington campus together.

That night was my first night away from home. I felt shaky.

I never did make it to my first class. I tried.

Soon, my mom was called, and I was admitted into a local psychiatric ward to get what they called stabilized.

When I returned home, I was nauseous and dizzy from the Depakote and couldn’t work in Mom’s store.

If I had this thing, this bipolar disorder, how would I ever function normally in the world?

When the spring semester of college began in January, I took my mom’s advice and went to the commuter campus near home.

In March of that year, Sanjay got arrested for attempting to steal from Best Buy.

Mom greeted her customers with her usual kindness, and conversed with them in Hindi, or Punjabi, or Sindhi, since she knew all three.

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Sapna Kumar

Sapna Kumar

Sapna Kumar is an LA-based actor and comedian, who rambles, muses, and pontificates on Medium. Visit https://sapna-kumar.com