Stories of domestic discipline

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It had a nice ring to it, V-card, the card you must hold to get your man. We agreed on two key rules:. Everyone in the club was expected to marry, expected to make our parents proud that their first-generation Indian-American daughters were settled, and so much richer than them. None of the girls stayed in Massachusetts.

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The club dissolved by default. My parents had taken me to New York when I was twelve and we had looked at the school for my older brother. We took a tour of the main library, and my father thought he saw Monica Lewinsky sitting at one of the long, wooden desks.

He was so excited pointing her out to my mother, brother and me. The only thing they had in common was their skin color pale white and their hair straight, thick, dark brown. My father had said if he were still a young man, he would want to attend Columbia, and I wondered if it was because the school was clean and vibrant and motivating or because he thought Monica Lewinsky studied there.

We stayed for two nights at a hotel in Times Square. Both mornings, I walked with my father to the coffee shop across the street from our hotel for tea. How glamorous I thought I was! In New York City with my parents, seeing shows, drinking tea out of paper cups.

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I met S that same day. He was my orientation counselor. I never spoke or wrote his full name. He was a senior, pre-med, and he had many friends. He wore a purple T-shirt that said volunteer in white capital letters, army-green cargo shorts, and black flip-flops. He said he was from upstate New York. I knew he was Indian and Punjabi by his surname, and by his light-brown skin and large, sharp nose. He was a few inches taller than me and his chest and arms were lean.

He, too, Stories of domestic discipline spot a fellow Indian. He smiled at me warmly, his eyes glinting green-ocean. He was an FOB: from India, fresh off the boat. During our first phone conversation, his thick accent reminded me of my father. His online profile was sappy. I rationalized the date as a free tablecloth dinner to boost my self-esteem. My roommate, Courtney, was unable to understand my reasoning for meeting Prem. White girls are raised to believe in themselves as individuals separate from their parents, gender and childbearing properties.

As a result, they have nothing to hide, nor does it occur to them that perhaps there are some things they should hide. She was exceptionally bright, here on a full scholarship. We got along well enough. Then again, we had more space than the other girls. The school gave us, only usa fancy suite with a living-room area because they deemed us so smart. I got a partial scholarship because of my math score. My score was impressive only by American standards. I looked into the mirror at her reflection — toned, milky white legs; bright, sky-blue eyes; wild, curly red hair. She cradled our puke-beige phone in her arms, as if physical affection might make it ring.

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I decided not to point out that Indian guys, sometimes, are also American guys, because I, too, called myself Indian instead of American. I wondered if she was right. I finished swiping bronzer across my face and turned around to face her. Your company! She laughed louder. Otherwise, no one ever will.

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But I also knew that if I listened to what a man was saying and nodded, providing intermittent responses indicating that I was in fact listening, that he would recall me as not only smart, but lovely and desirable too. She crawled like a cat and grabbed my leg to pull me down to the floor. Hang out with me. She started calling me her little princess when I told her I was a virgin. She treated me more gently after she learned I was a virgin, rationing my drinks at bars, telling the guys who approached me that I was her baby.

In truth, I thought about sex often. But when I did get close to that point with someone, I pretended I was no longer interested in them. I was afraid of sex. Countless atrophies ran through my head — the dean express-mailing a letter to my parents with photographic proof, a flashing red light casting across the campus, pointing towards me wherever I went, or worst, an STD boiling across my lips and vagina. One of the girls from my club, Jyoti, already Stories of domestic discipline a boyfriend, pre-med.

He said he was willing to wait for her. Stories of domestic discipline called to tell me the week after school started. She was different from the Indians I knew, never judging. Shaving her pubic hair, wearing shirts that sometimes showed her belly button and the sides of her stomach, sleeping with strangers from bars. Often, she studied at the library until three in the morning, walking without fear back to the dormitory in the middle of the night.

She spoke in a loud, clear voice. Her laugh was low and deep, guttural, with her head tilted back, and her mouth wide open. I felt that if I laughed too loud, boys would think I was ugly. My father told me my teeth were too large and I should smile with my mouth closed. I still think of this whenever I laugh. When I was with Courtney, I could be less rigid than my Indian self — skipping my morning bath, wearing a short skirt, defacing a textbook with doodles — and still be the good girl.

She slapped my butt and laughed. He had to understand the unspoken rules of the Indian dating pool: the men buy dinner, the women look pretty, nothing progresses further than kissing for at least the first three dates. I saw S on the way to the train. He was holding the seat of a bicycle, talking to another boy from the track team. I sat back in my seat and looked at the Indian couple sitting across from me.

They were young. The woman wore thin, gold bangles, and her black hair lay curved around her shoulder, plaited long like a majestic tail. Red vermillion powder marked the center of her scalp. The man wore a tucked-in, collared shirt with dark brown pants and nondescript brown shoes. She looked up at me, and I smiled with my mouth closed.

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She looked on, expressionless, as if she refused to recognize that we were the same. Then, she looked down at my legs. Her thoughts rang in my ears — skirt: too short; sweater: too tight, too much gook on my face. The restaurant was called Shaan, which means pride in Hindi. It was one block away from Rockefeller Center, and it was my favorite Indian restaurant in New York because they had large, crystal chandeliers, and a sitar player who sat on a white mattress in the center of the dining room.

I met Prem on the internet. I fantasized about getting married. About having sex every day, and having a man tell me twice a day that he loved me.

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He reached his arms out to hug me. I stepped back and extended my hand for him to shake. I know. The thing was, I really liked S. He was from here, not India, and we looked right together. Both attractive, both Indian-American, both light-skinned. I practically sashayed back to the subway. I did, but not with him. I picked up the note on my bed. Hey sexy, went out with Diane and the boys upstairs for drinks at Poseidon.

us! I made a plate of the leftovers, sat on the sofa in the common room, and turned on the television. I have never understood girls who can eat during a first date, who can converse and look pretty and coy all at the same time. Belly full, mind numb from the food coma, I shut the television off, and slid underneath the covers of my bed. In the brief time apart from Prem, his accent, his dark skin, his plain, brown pants had grown on me. I contemplated what it would be like to go home with a man I barely knew.

Stories of domestic discipline

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