Meril Petroleum Jelly

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

My mother, Abeda, sat in the JFK waiting area. I was not born yet. In a time when everything was strange and new, my mother held onto her Meril Petroleum Jelly as a token of her past.

Meril performed as a facial cream, vaseline, and lotion. Bangladeshi villagers like my grandparents didn’t have the money to afford this luxury when they worried about feeding the cows that day. Meril, a symbol of beauty and love, is given to brides on their wedding days. My mother understood its value.              
My mother recalls my sister playing with its soft plastic case while they waited at the airport. The shiny paper and yellow butterfly lid made it appealing to the baby.              
My parents’ home in New York, though humble in size was “good enough.” They lived by the ideal that “America was full of riches” despite my father working three jobs to sustain his family. My mother would wait until three a.m., when my father finally came home, and made sure to rub some Meril on his feet to ease their pain.  
Meril became a part of my family. I remember my dad massaging my pregnant mother’s back with Meril as we awaited my brother’s arrival. I felt beautiful putting it on as a little girl
as the jelly shined on my skin. 
Although it may have been a luxury before, Meril is a necessity for my family now. On every dressing table in my house, there will always sit at least one container of Meril Petroleum Jelly.

Place(s): Bangladesh

– Masuma S

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant