Born in India, I have lived in America since the age of 1. When I was 9, we moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Indian meant something different. In an effort to teach her class about different cultures, my third grade teacher invited my mother to visit our class, bring traditional Indian sweets, and wear traditional Indian dress. My mother gladly accepted the invitation. She made an Indian sweet called barfi, which is naturally white, but because of the winter holidays, she used food color to turn it red and green so the kids would like it. She came to my class bearing the sweets and wanted to show my classmates how a sari is worn. So she wore only her blouse and petticoat, which though covering her body almost entirely, is considered indecent, undressed, and practically naked for Indians. While she draped her sari expertly and to the amazement of the other kids, I was mortified that they had seen my mother naked. And as she passed around the sweets she spent hours making and decorating, I heard the kids snicker and call it “barfy” and make sounds like they were vomiting. For the rest of the year, the kids made fun of me and asked why I liked “barfy.” I was humiliated, furious, and have never forgotten that day, even 30 years later. I still hate barfi.
– Priya Chaudhry