my earliest memory of you was back in India, when I visited your house for the first time since we left the country

I was sitting on the guest bed, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the millionaire aunt who would cover me in cartons of Cadbury chocolate and translate her favorite soap operas into perfect English while I gorged myself on Five-Star bars and my grandmother’s cooking

and when you finally entered the room, you lifted me by the waist and turned me counterclockwise so that my pricked-up, 7 year old ear was right next to your magenta-tinted lips, and you whispered,

“don’t sit on the bedspread again; the maid leaves right after she makes it”


I didn’t tell Dad about that; I couldn’t dare to bruise his fawning younger-brother perceptions

but seven years later, you betrayed him, too -- large-scale, Bonnie & Clyde style, complete with the infamous pilfering and pillaging, your only redemption being that you didn’t murder anyone


so congrats. on not murdering anyone.


but after that breach, all your ghastly secrets were spat out over the dinner table and before breakfast and after school and muttered on sleepless days and rainy nights and soon they haunted the whole house, permeating the creaky corners of the basement and the floorboards underneath our beige carpeting and became a murky layer on our brightly painted walls


mom said that when I was born, you told her that I wouldn’t be good at math because I was a girl

mom said that you had made granddad, god bless his soul, pay your cellphone bills for the past ten years, even though he was old and sick and you were a forty-five year old trophy wife

mom said that you would be reincarnated as a donkey. I laughed at that one.


dad dealt with you by tuning his 0-and-1 thoughts into chords in the key of C

strumming at 4 in the morning, singing sticky saccharine songs in his native tongue


my brother was 2 at the time, so he grew up thinking that our dysfunctions were normal

that mothers were supposed to be growling expletives on hourly long-distance phone calls

that fathers were supposed to alienate their families in favor of guitars and running shoes and work

and that sisters were supposed to pretend like nothing ever happened when it did, it did it did it did


and I think I patched myself up well, considering that my body was too fragile for the amount of hatred it was burdened with, and I hid my fractures in the scent of baking bread and brownies and baklava and in the dust jackets of books I didn’t really understand

but now I have a television with subtitles in 4 different languages and a friend whose uncle owns Cadbury

and now I have an A in Calculus and a future that is conceivably you-free

and I’ve told my mom that you would probably be reincarnated as a cockroach because you stepped on one with your too-high heel on your way out of the guest room that day

and now, just like Arthur Miller and the Kinks and every girl on Tumblr have said, now I don’t need you anymore


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