I did it! Actually, we did it. There could be no other way. You, my dear, were the reason they were finally willing to understand the world as it should be seen.
When my parents came to America, they brought with them a few belongings, some big dreams and a host of misconceptions about what the people of America were like. In fact, they seemed to understand all non-Indians in a grossly inaccurate, almost caricaturistic light. It wasn’t malicious, it was simply their perspective.
In fact ironically, when I think of their perceptions, they parallel to Americans’ views of Apu from The Simpsons. He’s a clownish little Indian man with a heavy accent and unethical business practices. In the same vein, my parents saw all Americans as sex crazed hippies with no concept of collectivism, family, sacrifice or desire to maintain an untainted reputation, regardless of the costs.
It makes some sense. They would be encountering so many people unlike themselves, they had to create a sort of blueprint for understanding the many puzzle pieces that made up America. This can be useful to a degree I suppose, but it was also quite harmful. It drew lines between the perceived stark differences separating Indians and “the others.”
My parents were unable to relinquish how their custom-laden world could even vaguely line up with any strand of American culture. And further, meshing even slightly with “bad, loose, selfish” America would be treason of Indian culture.
Had my parents considered though that their children were born into this sin and may one day adopt some of these dreaded qualities? Well, no. Not for a long, long time, not until they had to face you, my very un-Indian boyfriend. Until then, they held on tight to their misinformed notions, which sometimes unwittingly teetered on the brink of intolerance.
And so when you came along, the concept of us was incomprehensible to them, a paradox. But slowly they began to bend. The change was so subtle that it almost went undetected. It was in the small interactions – silence replaced by laughter, formalities replaced by meaningful exchanges – that they were being redefined. They needed you, they needed light. They needed exposure and reflection of their own vulnerabilities.
We did this! We pushed them out of their uncomfortable places. We showed them something they had never dreamt of. We, my love, are conquistadors!