Mom's Copy of Paradise Lost


When my parents came to the United States with me as an infant, my mother had to forgo the rest of her college education in order to raise our family in this new country. However, this didn't stop her from reading her favorite texts. Ever since I was a toddler, I would grab this relic from our family shelves and eye the rhythmic verse alongside the flowery prose, the latter of which was an attempted interpretation of Milton's original epic. At first I could only decipher a few of the words which caught my eye, such as "Satan" and "Pandemonium", which seemed odd at the time. With my parents being Muslim, they would often try to incorporate Muslim teachings into our household philosophy, yet at the same time there was a copy of Paradise Lost in our home, with my mother's notes scribbled across a few of the pages. Reading this book and seeing my mother's annotations at a young ignited an interest in literature and poetry and classical history, and for me, it helps defeat the notion that Asian immigrants are apolitical or lack worldly knowledge outside of our own cultural spheres. It seems almost contradictory that an object to remind me of my immigrant heritage is a copy of an English text, and yet, when I see my mother's handwriting - written in English, yet evoking the style of Bengali calligraphy - I see it as an interpretation of a young Asian trying to interpret the world and the history around her. And that is truly awe-inspiring.

Year: 2000

– Muni Rahman

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child