I'm from t(here)

When I first went to college, it was all anybody could ask:

What is your name? Where are you from?

My name was easy (you can call me Yush!) but the latter made me pause. Where was I from? I was born in the United States but I learned its national anthem only after moving away; my passport and fuzzy memories were all that tied me to the country. I looked Indian, I felt Indian, surely, India was my home. But my cousins branded me as “videshi”, a foreigner. I wanted to belong somewhere but I was neither from here nor there.

My decision to come back to the States was greeted with a slew of white girl jokes, but those were only funny until I didn’t know which accent to use when I video called my friends. Laughing was easier when I was surrounded by people who looked and talked like me. I don’t feel the same as them anymore and I definitely don’t feel the same as anyone here. Being in the middle isn’t bad until you realise you’re basically alone.

Where are you from?

The simple answer is New Hampshire, the more complicated one is India— the truth is both. Imposter syndrome but make it double: that’s the thing about being 50-50, you’re never ever really something. I grew up here, I grew up there, call it multicultural or a perpetual identity crisis. It’s funny how whichever answer I choose to give makes me feel like a liar.

I have more than one home but none which I can truly call my own and it makes me wonder about my roots. Different homes make different people. I’ve learned that if you code switch enough, you start to lose yourself along the way. How do you mesh two different identities? It’s easy. You don’t. You just do what you have to and hope you don’t slip out of the cracks.

Where am I from?

Home to me stopped being a place a long time ago. I am from the autumn leaves just as much as I am from the monsoon rain, from my mother’s hugs and my father’s warmth. I carry too many places in my heart, it feels wrong to just claim one for myself.

Where are you from?

It’s supposed to be a one word answer, maybe two, but I’ll stick with ‘it’s a long story’. It sits heavily on my tongue, more uncomfortable than embarrassing, but that’s a burden I am, in a way happy to carry, I suppose.

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