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I would spy him coming back from class and get the jitters. Everyone turned to do their own individual nitpicking before agreeing that, yes, Chaya does look a little weird. Sometimes people looked “less Indian” than other people. But the others seemed to understand something about the final comment that I missed.“You know…” she said, squinting her eyes and thinking, calculating, “You almost look black.” Everyone laughed. The way they regarded me after drawing that collective conclusion was poignant – there was mockery but also something stronger: a disdainful othering.By Chaya Babu I was a few weeks into my freshman year at Duke when my sister, a senior at the time, said to me, “Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.” Just like that. It had lurked in the periphery of my consciousness in high school because of the way my family looked suspiciously upon my adolescent tryst with a lanky, dark-skinned boy from a neighboring town and even my interest at a young age in hip hop music. The unspoken messages about how they viewed blackness and sexuality and the intersection of these two things – and how I was attaching myself to it – were successfully transmitted.We were sitting in her car in the circular driveway behind my dorm. And lately, at 30 years old, I wonder if I’m still working through them somewhere deep beneath the surface as I finally try to reclaim and redefine this part of my identity as my own.When she came into my life, in 2015, she saved me from an abyss of hopelessness and made me feel like I was a child again, free of regrets, full of dreams and optimistic about the next day.I was conscious about her race and ethnicity and all the precious baggage that they came with.Being married doesn't necessarily mean you are happy with your social or even your sex life.
At that moment I admit, I didn’t feel like I did anything out of the ordinary.By the fourth day of our vacation on the islands, we had got used to being stared at.But when curious glances turned to quizzical looks, we began to realise that we were considered an oddity: A brown woman with a white man. ” one of the two women asked me as soon as my husband left my side.The night was warm and wet in the late North Carolina summer. If I’m honest with myself about the big picture, I actually think this all started before boys could even be blamed. I remember being in a hotel room with my sister and a few children of my parents’ friends, the only other Indians I knew and whom I saw maybe twice a year.I had just told her about the budding flirtation with a boy from Memphis who lived across the grassy quad. One girl in the room decided to turn the group’s attention to my facial features and how un-Indian they were: the tip of my nose was a little rounder than my sister’s; my lips were full, fat, and sat prominently on my face.