“Uhm, what?” Desi Brother asks. We’re in the office the next day. I’m sitting at my desk nursing a room temperature double skim latte. Unlike my father I don’t like my drinks or food tongue burning hot. “Cheesecake. With his nieces, Possible-Mate-from-Chicago made cheesecake for us,” I reply. My brother clears his throat, “And then what? He put it in Tupperware and brought it to a restaurant?” he asks half-way incredulously. I sigh, “Gladware, but yes.”
“That seems interesting,” my brother says. Interesting is Minnesotan code for ‘I think that is odd, but I am too polite to say anything.’ I actually thought the cheesecake was kinda ironically funny – we’re meeting in the Diary State eating a cake made of cheese. But it was a thoughtful gesture. “Was he nice?” my brother asks. I nod, “Yeah." I pause and then ask, “Do you think my niece would help me make cheesecake for my date? If God help, I am still dating in five years?” I ask. He shrugs, “I don’t know. Depends on her mood.”
We laugh, because it’s true. For someone who is one, Desi Niece is incredibly headstrong, with a sharp and fierce personality. And I sincerely hope being Indo-American and all that it entails, never dilutes her dreams. I hope she never loses this confidence that I see bubbling in her eyes. I joke, and tell my brother that I want Desi Niece to grow up and become a banker because I will need someone to support me. At the rate I am going I won’t have a husband or kids to take care of me if I fall sick at 70 like Dad did. And it does scare sometimes, the possibility of falling sick and being a single 70 year old woman in New York.
So I sincerely hope in one generation this gets realigned, and Desi Niece becomes more than I did - an architecture major (that I didn’t really enjoy). Who goes onto to become a technical writer (boring and unfulfilling) because it was expected of me.
Growing up I didn’t play with neighbor kids in the summers because I studied in an air conditioned house. I didn’t go to high school football games or date because it was not allowed. This is why I hope my niece spends her summers playing in the grass, building sandcastles and smelling like the outdoors. I hope she cycles through puddles, plays the piano, and takes ballet.
I am strong willed but somewhere along the way I have made decisions for everyone other than myself, that now I spend A LOT of time wondering who I am living my life for? And I just hope Desi Niece resists, rather than submits to expectations and traditions that I sometimes feel could strangle me if I let them.
“Are you gonna see him again?” my brother asks. “I don’t know. He’s in Wisconsin for another week and it doesn’t seem like I will ever leave Minnesota any time soon…” I mutter. “But I need a favor,” I say to my brother. “Sure, what?” “Don’t tell anyone that I am seeing him,” I say. “Okay, but don’t Mom and Chicago Auntie know?” he asks. “Yes, but Mom can keep a secret. I just don’t want to get Massi or Bangalore Cousin’s hopes up again. I don’t want this to be another Dr. Froggy where everyone other than me is disappointed,” I explain. My brother nods and says, “Fair enough.”