They look at the combination, never verbally questioning. But they don’t have to – their stares speak the question as loudly as their mouths could. I don’t think too much of it anymore, unless I’m in a new situation or back home in India. The funny looks they give roll off my shoulders like water off a leaf. Gradually, but still forgotten nevertheless.
When they finally get the answer their eyes are craving, they try to play it cool.
“That’s cool that your adoptive parents are white. So what?”
What if I need to talk about how scared I am around police? To share my experiences and to hear others’ experiences. To connect with someone who has personally felt that type of fear build up in their bones.
What if school asked me to talk about all of the characteristics I “got from my mom” and why my hair is so thick and why I am so short?
What if I want to learn about my culture, immersing myself in the smells and sights and thoughts of my homeland?
What if the doctor asks me about medical history or genetic history as they’re performing tests?
What if a stranger asks me if I “know that man” as my guardian comes to pick me up from practice?
What if a pandemic and riots and racism overtake me heart, soul, and mind, and I need a safe place to process, a safe place to be fully Indian?
What if…what if I don’t have the answers?
Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. She grew up in the Twin Cities and found her passions in music, photography, and writing. She has pieces published with CAAL, MNAsianStories, and HER Online Journal, and her passion lies in storytelling and finding the moments to capture.