As I beamed back at all the smiling faces, left my office for the holidays with a little extra hop in my steps and gazed up at the twinkling Christmas lights everywhere; I was transported back to my favorite memories during this time of the year.
I can remember it so vividly, the ever so gentle chill in the air and everyone in sweaters and scarves. The big paper star that Dada would put up on the terrace of the house with a single bulb in it but it shined so bright! Dadi would make namkeen, while Dada hummed along baking his delightful pink icing cake and golden brown doughnuts. On the other side of the village Nana was reading his Bible, while Nani prepared her flavorful chicken roast and rotis for the family. Before we knew it, it was Christmas Eve and I could see the flashlights getting brighter, I could hear the dholak and harmonizing voices in the distance getting louder by the minute as they rejoiced in singing of the coming of our Liberator. My grandparents house would be the last stop in the village. All the carolers would have chai and snacks before we all made our way to the church.
In our Mennonite church, all the women sat on the left , the men on the right while we all sang in unity all the Hindi Christmas hymns and carols. Then the kids performed Jesus’s birth story and I couldn’t wait to play the role of the angel who led the wise-men to the emancipator baby boy. It was the one night, adults and kids stayed past their bedtime, celebrating our truth and each other. After a couple hours at the church everyone in the village went to their houses for a short sleep, only to wake up to a joyous Christmas morning. My sister and I couldn’t wait to put on our new dresses and see all of our cousins, Mamus and Mamis beautiful outfits at church. Christmas morning and afternoon was spent in more celebration and then a communal lunch right after. I could barely pay attention to all the teachings by the pastor, preoccupied by the aromas of tomato chutney, jeera rice and chicken curry that filled the church. This memory when I was surrounded by my family, and friends feels like “home”.
Then there is the memory of a tropical Christmas Eve when my parents, sister and I devoured ginger chicken with coconut milk covered mango sticky rice for dessert. And of-course we took an extra order of ginger chicken back to the house for Pepsi to enjoy. The warm breeze with smells of fried beetles and mangosteen, while the sounds of car and motorcycle horns felt like “home” as well.
I am a Woman of Color living (working) among a majority of Caucasians and I hear this question at every turn, “Where are you from?” I take a deep breath, while fighting the frustration of why can’t they see that I belong here and now. Uncontrollably my mind races, my heart sinks and my soul longs to answer: Where, Who, What and How can I, a third culture individual find, create and define my home? And yours; Is it a place, person, state of mind, or just a temporary feeling? “I believe my story and yours is so much more than where we were born.”