So, do you speak English. What brought you here. Hey look, there’s an Indian over there! I know an Indian, too. He works at the gas station. He owns a motel. Do you know him. I love Indian food. What is in curry. My favorite is Chicken Tikka Masala. Where are you from. What part of India are you from. I think she’s Mexican. No, she’s Hawaiian. Oh look, she’s Indonesian. What does the red dot mean. What brought you. What brought you here. Here. Here, spell your name. Say your name. Pronounce your name. What does your name mean. Do you have a nickname. Can I call you something else. I can give you a nickname. What are you.
What is your background. Where in India is that. Oh. You speak English so well. So well. Where are you really from. Do you ever go back. Do you have family there. What Bollywood movie should I watch. Miss Universe is beautiful. I love the clothes. Where can I get the clothes. Are you Hindi. I love chai tea. I love tea-tea. Do you speak Hindu. My doctor is Indian. I love her. You remind me of her. Are you related. Are you a doctor.
My son is going to a Diwali party. What should he wear. What should he bring. The rice. You bring the rice. What language do you speak. Did you see what she was wearing. Say hi to the aunties. Is it enough gold. Your skin is too dark. What do you do. What is your degree. How much do you earn. What you should do, I tell you, what you should do. No one can take your education away from you. Your education is gold. Gold is what is important.
Prasanta Verma was born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills in the southern U.S., and now resides in the upper Midwest. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Bramble Lit Mag, Relief Journal, a New York Quarterly anthology, and she has a book about ethnic loneliness forthcoming in 2024. She tweets at @VermaPrasanta