My American Dream

My American Dream

No, I do not want a 6-figure paycheck, a white porch to wrap around my ivory house

with my evergreens soaring so high they block out the sounds of the “other”

No, I do not want perfectly aligned teeth to match my neatly trimmed hedges and freshly cut lawn

No, I want a life that isn’t shy of hardship and elbow grease I want a house that is a little broken and a lawn that needs a little work

We work on it and dig in with our heels because we see beauty beyond what’s on the surface

I want a fridge that barely stays cool and a heater that struggles to stay warm

Because we will fill the spaces between us with laughter and old tales and soon enough it’ll be like summer in August despite the thump and drip of the snow outside

I want a beat up car that sputters and hiccups its way down the road but gets me where I need to go

Because we know it is not what we drive but where we are going that matters

I want these reminders

I want those broken windows and those leaky pipes because in the holes and vacant spaces the wind will find a song

We will sing along with it because crying or complaining never got us anything in this world

I want my children’s nose to be filled with the smell of cumin and mint and all those spices that made my mouth sing

The scents of home

I want the curry where the oil floated to the top and I check the extra skin under my chin but eat it anyways because my mom spent the whole day working to feed me

I want to eat it with my two hands because naani never bothered with such trivial things like spoons

I want those sugar cubes that would melt on my tongue with the faint ache of an incoming cavity because my daadha would smile with a handful and laugh when I ran and grabbed it from him

No I do not need security in money or safety in an empty house with an alarm that will never go off because I am in the nice and quiet suburbia

I need my mother’s voice singing over the fans that are blowing above the stove to keep the smoke away from the kitchen and out of the house

I need the sideways glance and inward chuckle of my father as I leave and tell him “I’ll be at the library late today”

I need the pokes and wrestling arms of my brothers because I am slipping in this American winterland and I know they will hold me up

This is my security

My American Dream is three generations long and has my grandparents on the first floor with their aching hips and wobbling ankles

My parents on the second floor with their feigned stern looks as they tease each other and I watch as their laughter bubbles over their words because they love each other just so. My children running across the yard and coming inside with tears in their eyes because “bhai jan didn’t let me play”

No my American Dream has no time for 9-5 babysitters, nursing homes, or retirement plans

My American Dream is laced with adversity and wrapped in silver paper like ladoo

Sorry for the glare

 

By: Fatimah Ikram

footnotes: naani: grandmother (Mom’s mom) dhaadha: grandfather (father’s father) bhai jaan: affectionate/respectful term for older brother Ladoo: East Asian sweet, usually wrapped in edible silver paper

Image: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/the-future-is-bright-for-chris-bracey-8566515.html?action=gallery&ino=2#

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