The House on Mango Street

Ojiichan 

My grandfather is a man you could never forget. He always seems to leave lasting impressions on everyone he meets. He’s an extraordinary man that many praise, though I often find myself forgetting how fortunate I am to have him as a role model. 

He isn’t just the grandfather I have to hide snacks from in the kitchen.

He isn’t just the grandfather I go to wach movies with. 

He isn’t just the grandfather who comes to my basketball games. 

He isn’t just the grandfather that cracks awful jokes at the dinner table. 

He’s a man who fights for those who can’t fight for themselves. 

He’s a man who sought reparations  for my ancestors after we lost everything in the war.

He’s a man whose heart is bigger then you know.

He’s a man who finds life in the youth. 

He’s a man I’m just lucky enough to call “Ojiichan.” 

Coffee, Flowers, and Tea

The calming atmosphere of a cafe is where many seek refuge among the chaos in their life to study or get work done. They come for a good cup of coffee, the occasional avocado toast, and the productive environment. I always come for the company. It’s not often that I come to cafes alone. I’m always accompanied by my best friend. I savor our moments of happiness together with the good food and coffee we share. Our laughter rings through the cafe and sweeps through it’s soft yet stiff, “productive” air (though never without dirty looks.) I’ve always loved her name because of how sweet and gentle it sounded. Jasmine. I always imagine a delicate white Jasmine flower or a nice warm cup of Jasmine tea. Everyday for the past seven years I found and continue to find more reasons to love, admire, and cherish her besides her name. But even when I’m old and grey and lost touch with the rest of the world, I know I’ll always remember my delicate white flower and warm cup of tea. 

P.S. it still hurts

“At least you’re healthy and have a roof over your head”

I think these are the most unproductive words you could say to someone when they confide in you with their problems. Of course, count your blessings because they should not be forgotten. Remember how fortunate you are because there are others who have it harder.

But that doesn’t make your problems any easier. Life’s still hard. 

Perspective and Scale. 

In a theater, audiences happily enjoy the play or presentation that’s put on. But behind the curtain, they don’t see the technical difficulties, costume changes, or set designs. Internationally, America is known as one of the greatest countries in the world. We’re a country made by immigrants and centered on democracy, unalienable rights, and diversity. The United States of America: the land of opportunity, the free, racists, and guns.  

Perspective

The human body is made up of more than 37 trillion cells which cannot even be seen by the naked eye. But take a microscope and examine a single cancerous cell that can infect millions of others on its own and end a life. Dhaka, a city among hundreds of others in Bangladesh. One out of billions of others on earth. Yet it is the most densely populated city in the entire world. Tens of thousands of people, centuries of history, and countless vehicles, buildings, and streets. All in one tiny dot on a world map. 

Scale

Everything, everyone, their stories, and their problems. Completely unique and situational. Like a footnote at the end of a novel, this is something significant but often forgotten. 

P.S. it still hurts.

People Watching 

People-watching is one of my favorite things to do. I can sit in one place for hours and just watch complete strangers in their everyday lives. How they walk, how they talk, how they interact with others. It’s so interesting to see the small differences each individual has. 

Though sometimes I forget that I am not invisible and my stare is not hidden from the rest of the world. Sometimes people will look up and then the two of us find ourselves locked in awkward, silent, eyecontact. Then we both look away, embarrassed and uncomfortable with the sudden, unexpected interaction. Usually, I’ll look back over to see if they’re still looking… only to see they did the same. And we share yet another unwanted moment of intimacy. 

I never seem to learn my lesson.

Being an “Adult”

I learned from a really young age that adults aren’t really “adults.” 

As a child, in your innocence and terror of the enormity of the world, you rely on the adults in your life to guide you. To children, being an adult means being perfect and all-knowing. It means being an individual who can guide you when in need or trouble. They’ve lived so much longer than I have and gone through life already. They should already know everything, right? For some unexplained reason, children place adults on a high pedestal before they’ve even earned it. 

I saw adults as “adults” for the first 8 years of my life. Those were the years of my family of four. 

My mom. My dad. My sister. And I. 

But soon, after certain unforeseen circumstances, my little family of four became a family of six. 

My mom. My dad. My sister. My Aunt S. My little cousin. And I. 

And eventually more family members began coming over to help my Aunt S out and provide emotional support in her time of need. Eventually, every night for dinner, my family of 6 became a family of 11. 

My mom. My dad. My sister. My Aunt S. My little cousin. My Aunt E. My uncle. My other little 

cousin. My grandma. My grandpa. And I. 

Seeing each other every day, and in such uneasiness and uncertainty, tensions naturally rose and tempers grew short. This was when I was exposed to the reality of my aunts’ relationship. My Aunt E hated Aunt S and once the two of them got into it, they fed off each other’s hostility, turning a tiny flame into a forest fire. They both constantly felt like they had to walk on eggshells around one another, weary of the other snapping. But eventually, these eggshells turned into shards of glass. Screaming matches and arguing rang through the rooms of my small home every night. The smallest of things always led to an explosive fight and eventually the night always ended with a slammed door and one of them speeding away. 

Despite this, everyone always came back the next day and my family of 11 was restored every night. Even with the screaming, fighting, and pain, we were family, and family sticks together no matter what. This lesson has been ingrained into my system ever since I was young and is one of my highest values. Though I will never understand how my Aunt S can always forgive my Aunt E. I will never understand how she could pretend nothing happened the next day. I will never understand how she doesn’t loathe the fact that, in a period of her life with the most pain and suffering, Aunt E still managed to make it about herself. Her sacrifice and compromise taught me the truth about adults. 

Some adults are immature.

Some adults are mean. 

Some adults are struggling in this world just as much as I am. 

Some “adults” are still children. 

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