Memories of a Past Life
She came home from Montessori one day saying that she wanted to color her hair so that it would be blond. She doesn’t remember this, but her dad tells her the story of how concerning it was for him: his first born, his oldest, his first pride & joy unhappy of where she came from.
She remembers being carried, upset and stressed, by her dad, yearning and persuasive, to her mom. They were comparing the varying shades of brown on their hands. She had the lightest skin, her dad the darkest, and her mom somewhere in between. She was still unsatisfied.
Another time, she saw her tainted brown skin yet again when she was pointing to the board, showing her black and her white classmates something or another. She didn’t compare her brownness with the shade of her black classmate’s hand, but rather, she grew quiet and reserved after seeing that her skin didn’t come from the same place theirs came from.
She remembers quietly standing up for her mom-made cucumber-and-ketchup on white bread sandwich for lunch during a field trip. She knew it tasted good, even if it was soggy. She knew her mom made it because she liked it so much. She knew it was weird to her friends. She knew they thought she was weird for eating ketchup and cucumbers on white bread. With no crusts.
She was embarrassed that one time her dad came home from Pakistan and surprised her at school during lunch, with his beard grown out. She had never seen her dad with a beard. She had never seen her dad with a beard at her school. She had never seen her friends see her dad with a beard at her school. She felt terrible the entire day because she knew she hurt him. He felt bad that he embarrassed her, and he didn’t surprise her at school much after that.
She felt so uncomfortable every other year when her grandparents visited her school. They didn’t speak English, they didn’t wear nice summer dresses, they didn’t know what to say her teachers. She was never really that excited for Grandparents’ Day. Not because she didn’t care, but because she did.
She got upset with her mom every Field Day when she came to sit in the hot sun and sticky grass because her mom spoke in their mother tongue and not in English. When she saw her classmates’ moms around and turned to see her mom talking in a language that didn’t fit, she would let out a frustrated whisper “can you PLEASE talk in English, mom.”
It was the first day of summer, and she was painting until she went online and saw all the popular, white girls in her grade at Daffodil. She didn’t even know what that was, but she had picked up that it was an elite ball that only certain people who met the qualifications were invited to. She spent the next few hours looking at each and every profile picture of each and every girl in each and every picture. She concluded that she felt left out, not of the event, but of a whole world, their world. An entire world that she would have access to if she was white. She concluded that she wanted to be white.
Falaknaz Chranya is a first-year student at Boston University. She likes psychology and Spanish, and she also enjoys painting and writing. She has absolutely no idea what she wants to major in, and because she doesn’t know where to take her life after graduation (career-wise), she has decided to take 1-2 years to travel the world doing community service projects. She has a big family in Atlanta, Georgia that she will not stop talking about once you give her the chance.