This time last year I was pregnant.
As you know, in response to the growing concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, last month we were forced to close down our campus and cancel all in-person classes for the foreseeable future. And to be perfectly honest with you, as difficult as the decision was at the time, it has probably been the best thing to ever happen to this university.
but when you are not visiting they amuse
one another even more
you wouldn’t believe it stranger
the things of which these women are capable
Translated from Bangladeshi Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya
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The dance I wanted to learn? Bhangra. One person beats a large double-headed drum, the dhol, while folks in colorful clothing move on the balls of their feet, twist their wrists, and stretch out their arms. It’s an enchanting traditional dance; but somewhere in its migration from India to other countries, the dance snorted some cocaine and became frantic and hyper, choreographed to a conglomeration of Punjabi music and hip-hop. A way to get the general public more interested, I guess. Modern Bhangra was probably not what the farmers had in mind when they celebrated in villages long ago, but its origin made it my priority to master.
There are thirteen words I know in Chinese before I know them in English. Shu niu hu tu long she ma yang hou ji gou zhu — middle school races to say them as fast as possible. No tones because they slow you down. Middle school Chinese was always in portable classrooms. Only in retrospect comes the othering, and I can already hear accusations of overthinking.