nine ten eleven

9/11/08

Dear Readers,

I never want to say the words 9/11 again. I’m going to stick the word “ten” between “9” and “11” whenever I see it, hear it, or say it this week. From here on out, its going to be “9, 10, 11” or nothing at all.

Newsflash: “Nine, Eleven” is not generally how the numbers go.

If a 3-year-old Indian girl is saying her numbers in English out loud to the delight of her immigrant parents who could never predict how diaspora divides familial ties, and that little girl says “seben, ayt, nine, eleben,” she is stopped and corrected. “No beti,” the parents say proudly, for knowing more English than her affirms their ability to teach, and teaching affirms their ability to parent. “No beti,” mom and dad smile, “its say-ven, eight, nine, TEN, eleven!” They are all smiles, seeking but never getting that shiny star sticker of recognition for the gauntlet crawl of their English acquisition. They could never predict how the little girl’s English would be better than theirs by the time she was in 3rd grade. They hadn’t time to imagine how that would stump, distract, belittle. And never did they stop to think how they would mix their only Born in the U.S.A child up with America. Ambushed, they shell-shocked sharpened their fangs on her, just tryna get a bite of the American pie.

War ain’t no joke. Every culture’s been through it enough to put hollows under all our children’s eyes. But with this much abundance–the loves I rock, the clothes I have, the students I get to watch grow, with nature resplendent in unfathomably diversity, every blade, every leaf–don’t I owe it to myself to lighten up a little? Let’s say yes.

Perhaps thinking about “9/TEN/11” this week will put a smile on your face. Maybe the impression of that smile will put a dent in the dimension of the day, the era.

It’s worth a try/for the little ones/I believe.

Tune in Tokyo for more,

Roopa/N

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