The wedding gift

Maya Jain '17, Notre Dame Magazine

My father recently arrived home from India with a tired smile on his face and a slim package tucked under his arm. “Here,” he said, offering me the grey-brown envelope as he walked through the door. “I brought these back from Delhi.”

My curiosity piqued, I grabbed the package and emptied its contents onto the kitchen counter. Inside was a bright yellow binder full of photos of our extended family spanning the last century, most of them prints I had never seen before. Wide-eyed, I pored over the shots of my elder cousins as squirming young children, grainy depictions of sari-clad relatives arranged carefully in chairs, and even a nearly unbelievable still of my grandfather in the same frame as Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

I was glued to the pages. I am a diaspora child, a half-Indian born and raised in the U.S. thanks to the life that my father built on sweat and sacrifice — living thousands of miles from his home country not the least of those sacrifices. As I’ve grown, I’ve striven to acquire a taste for the ancestral culture that I so desperately long to know yet can never fully belong to. 

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Originally published by Notre Dame Magazine at on January 31, 2018.