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I felt a surge of love for Birju. Even though he was sick and swollen, I did not want him gone. I wrote:I lie in my bed and listen to her cough and am glad she is coughing because this means she is alive. Soon she will die, and I will no longer be among the lucky people whose wives are sick. Fortunate are the men whose wives cough. Fortunate are the men who cannot sleep through the night because their wives coughing wakes them.more...

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What does that have to do with me? Normally this was the time to start discussing my glorious future. But the idea of a future in which Birju was sick made fame seem pointless.more...

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I need to take care of Mommy and Daddy. First you grab the finger, and then you grab the wrist. Im just being practical. Dont worry. You can hardly imagine the life ahead. This last statement made me happy.IT SEEMED OBVIOUS that God was more likely to help people who were good than those who were ordinary. This is why it felt very important that we behaved impeccably. My parents refused to do this, however.more...

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I have psychologists. These Americans are experts. They know A to Z. I examined his face. He was smiling. The more he spoke, the more I had the sense that I was losing him, that he was somehow fading away right before me. My mother and I took the train to New York several times a week. Passing through the marshes covered in snow, I would have an aching sense of nostalgia. I was convinced that things would get worse and that one day I would look back on this period with longing.more...

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Vanishing into books, I felt held. While at school and walking down the street, there seemed no end to the world, when I read a book or watched The Love Boat, the world felt simple and understandable. Birju liked America much more than I did. In India, he had not been popular. Here he made friends quickly. He was in seventh grade and his English was better than mine. Also, he was kinder than he used to be in India.more...

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Then he switched to Hindi. There is proof. It is not like I am just saying this. He said this and laughed. He picked his nose, examined the snot, and flicked it beneath Birjus bed. I was used to people saying Indians had invented most things.more...

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Narayan didnt answer. He was quiet for a moment, and he looked like he was concentrating earnestly, trying to comprehend something that was beyond him. When he spoke, he sounded hesitant. Still, it sounds very hard. If we dont come every day, my mother said, he will get bed sores, he will get infections, hell die. We have no choice. Either we do everything, or we do nothing.more...

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These people began visiting us. Many of them spoke neither Hindi nor English. When they came, they brought coconuts and bananas as if they were visiting an actual temple. Usually they said nothing or only the few words of Hindi that they knew: namaste, beta, khush. Some of the women came into Birjus room, gripped his feet with both hands, and bowed and touched their foreheads to his feet. My father was now drinking all night long. Many nights, I woke at three or four in the morning from hearing him coming down the hallway. The upstairs bathroom was next to my room. My father kept a bottle of scotch beneath the bathroom sink. If the creaking of the hallway floor didnt wake me, the buzz of the fluorescent tube light turning on did.more...

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The meeting started at seven and ended at eight. When it finished, people stood around the room and held hands and said the Lords Prayer. My father and I joined in the hand-holding and tried repeating the words as they were spoken. Saying them, I felt that we were trying to pass as whites. Immediately after this, we were surrounded by men who began giving my father scraps of paper with their phone numbers.more...

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They saw me as a troublemaker for responding to the insults. To them, I was a show-off for not keeping quiet. This was true to an extent. Part of my motivation for fighting was that I did not want to be like the recent immigrants and so I was deliberately trying to be different. There were other ways that I was a show-off too. I often reminded the boys I sat with that I was in more advanced-level classes than they were. Sitting with these children, a part of me was surprised that not all Indians were smart. Often in the evening, my mother and I would leave the house and go for walks. As we went down sidewalks, cars would drive past us and people would shout curses; haji, Gandhi, sand nigger.more...

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