Monday with Ms. Marvel: home is where the heart is


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan's Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Staff Reporter

I don’t remember coming to America.

 At three years old, there’s only so much you can store away. The one memory I can somehow conjure is vague, but present nonetheless. 

I’m three years old. I’m holding my mother’s hand and gripping a life size Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that’s almost as big as I am in the other. I don’t know why but we’re walking really fast. She’s scolding me in Bengali, telling me to hurry. The airport looks like a swirl of colors and lights and people, and I can’t remember any specifics. I can’t remember any faces or shops I pass, and I don’t know why that particular memory has been etched into my mind but I can’t help but hold on to it. It’s the only part that I can remember of the day that changed my life.

My proper label, the three words that define my identity and my place in this country are quite simple; I am a first generation immigrant. I came to America with my parents, legally, at the age of three. And I’ve lived here since before I can remember. I’ve gone to school in America, made friends in America, celebrated birthdays, and Fourth of Julys in America. I’ve sung the National Anthem as a patriot, walked the Texas State Fair in cowboy boots, stood for my country and our soldiers. 

But when the plane lands in Mumbai and I step out of the airport and see my grandparents wave and shout for me in their sarees and kurtas, I no longer know who I am. 

I am their granddaughter, a Bengali speaking Indian girl. My hands should be adorned with the stones and gold of our culture, but instead they boast a sterling silver Kendra Scott ring that all the other girls at school wear. My tastebuds prefer chicken tenders to chicken tandoori. My Bangla is broken. 

Am I even an Indian? Am I even home? 

The question plagues me for the next three weeks that we get to spend in our motherland. As I pass the rickshaws, and hear the music, and see the sights I so rarely get to see, the question haunts me. I suddenly don’t know what it even means to have a home.  

But when the dreaded day finally comes, and it’s time to leave my grandparents, and we get to the train station on the edge of the town, I find my mind going completely blank. 

I look at the trains streaking by and feel the tears start to well in my eyes. All of a sudden I am six again. 

I’m crying, clutching onto my grandparents because I don’t want to leave. Our visit was too short. Three months was not enough time. 

And then I am ten. I am crying again, because our visit once again was too short. Two months was not enough time. 

Now I am fourteen. And I’m crying, sobbing, because our visit was too short. Three weeks was not even close to enough time. Three weeks was a mere blink. My heart is aching, and I feel like it’s about to shatter in my chest. 

And that’s when I realise the truth. 

Because yes, I have spent years in America. And yes, I have spent my entire childhood living the American dream in a small suburban town in Texas. 

And yet, I was born in India. And my entire family and everyone I love spent their entire lives in India. 

But neither are my home.

My home is my grandparents’ apartment filled with the smell of my grandmother’s famous mutton. It is the sweet taste of iced lemonade after an afternoon of swimming in the Texas heat. It is the rickshaw ride on the way back from the airport. The lights that light up Frisco Main Street on Christmas Eve. The Mickey Mouse dragging behind me on my way to America.

Because what I’ve come to realise is that home isn’t a place. It isn’t confined to sovereign borders and where my VISA will let me live. My home is the moments that I store in my heart, the ones filled with almost palpable joy and love. 

My home is where my heart is, and it is in Frisco, and Mumbai, and in Vadodara, all at once.