At A Crossroads in Culture

Where I’m from, my mom would only let me wear shorts at the knee, dresses with colored pantyhose underneath, and no spaghetti-straps. Where I’m from, my father was adamant that we kept our closet doors closed; just to make sure the smell from my mother’s cooking wouldn’t cling to our clothes— that sharp and exotic smell of masala. Where I’m from, Princess Jasmine was the queen who inspired me, her big brown eyes and thick black hair, she was a princess and she looked like me.

Where I’m from, the Bangladeshi-Americans in the area would get together every weekend for little dawats. And the men would discuss politics in the living room and the women would discuss their lives and their children and their clothes near the kitchen and the kids would be upstairs, and even though it bored us all out of our minds, we kept going every weekend. Because seeing each other every weekend felt like routine, like community, like we all belonged.

Where I’m from is no particular place because where I’m from is a combination of everything I have ever experienced from the two completely different sides of my life. Where I’m from, people wear pieces the bits and pieces of my culture that they like, turning a blind eye as a garment factory making your regular clothes burns down and kills 132. Where I’m from, my grandma used to get side-eyed for wearing a bindi to the supermarket, but you wouldn’t dare go to a music festival without your cool new face jewels. Where I’m from, an ignorant man can tell me to go back to my own country because I don’t belong here. But he doesn’t know the stares I get on the bus in Bangladesh because everyone knows I’m from America— that I don’t belong there either.

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