Jalebi Slam

I bought jalebis from a mithai store today, a mithai store - not a roadside cart - because my mother feels it is safer this way.

For six months after we came to India my mother boiled Aquaguard water so it would be safe enough for us to drink. For all of my life in Aurangabad - more than 12 years if we're counting my college vacations - my mother made pani puri at home from scratch so we wouldn't contract water-borne diseases.

For all our years in India since my parents returned from dad's chemo my mother would wake us 25 minutes too early, even when sleep was more precious to her than it was to us, even though the school bus for 8:45 AM class came to our stop at 7:20 - which is no time to even be awake if you ask my sister - to feed us "real" breakfast in addition to an unnecessarily tall glass of milk before school,
everyday, so she could give us enough fuel to last until recess and sustain our growing bodies through puberty.

My mother made cream spinach and burritos and grilled vegetable sandwiches that made spinach tolerable, beans bearable, and cabbage not entirely awful.

There is really no doubt my mother fed us well. Anant and Tai were both on the basketball teams in school. I ran track even when my eating disorder was at its worst.

You see, in child-raising, unfortunately, there is no guarantee
that the efforts you make, the risks you take, the sacrifices, the safeguards, the sleepless nights -
will be worth it, that things will work out the way you intended

Like how my parents raised us vegetarian and now I'm vegan, complicating their grocery expeditions in newer, more frustrating ways, than when I refused to let them keep chocolate in the house
and then ice cream, and then chips, and cookies and cream biscuits, for fear that I would binge on it all, purge, and then starve myself for three days in a row

And when my father kept Ramchandra Guha and Robin Sharma
Ramkrishna Paramhansa
Ayn Rand and Arundhati Roy
Stephen Hawking and JK Rowling
Atchyut Godbole and Sharankumar Limbale
and Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and Sophocles
all on the same shelf
and I duly absorbed their wisdom and structured my value systems for myself
so now that this strange hippie middle child
is an idealist, a dreamer, a lover of life
- leftist, feminist, atheist, voluntary extinctionist?
perhaps they should have seen it coming

Perhaps they should have expected me to question all things, including them

Perhaps they should not be surprised
when I snap my fingers near my head at mithai-shop men who glance too often at my chest,
when I shout out abuses at traffic offenders,
when I cry at well-made commercials,
when my vegan shows, when my crazy shows
when I love all people like I was told to -
with admiration, adoration and unsolicited affection
with my heart on my sleeve - boys and girls and the genderfluid alike
Like I reasoned was right
Like I thought for myself
Like they taught me to.

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