"Asha looks around at a sea of brown faces: some lighter, some darker than her own, but these variations are insignificant in light of the realization she has never been around so many Indians before. For the first time in her life, she is not in the minority."
It astonished me how well shilpi somay gowda could tell the story of two families with such creative ease. It made me happy to know I wouldn't just learn about Asha's life in America as if she had been dropped here with a middle but no beginning. The author keeps us informed about the biological family back in Mumbai, India. I had the chance to become closely involved with the lives of Kavita, Asha's biological mother, Jasu, her father and her brother, Vijay. This made me think how all of our relatives and/or ancestors play a part in our life whether we ever meet them personally or don't meet them personally. Who they are lies within us as much as the blood streaming throughout our veins. What we look like can tell an ancestor's story or the way we move, etc.
"Do I remember? What, do you think I'm already some crazy old lady who's lost her mind? Of course I remember. You had one little birthmark on your ankle, and another on the bridge of your nose--yes, that one, it's still there. Dadima brushes it lightly with a finger."
When Asha arrives at the orphanage, the clerk explains there is no way to tell who brought her there so many years ago. Then, he look in Asha's eyes. He says in so many words I've seen those very eyes before. At that point, he begins to put his heart in searching for Asha's parents.
"Suddenly, Arun Deshpande leans forward and peers at Asha's face. "Your eyes, they're so unusual. I have seen that color only once before on Indian woman.....He shuffles through the files..."
Also, by meeting both families I had the chance to learn about life in India. Shilpi Somaya Gowda explains in depth why Baby Asha is taken away to an orphanage. Sadly, there is a gender war in India. Girls are far less important than boys. Shilpi Somaya Gowda uses the term "forgotten daughters" to describe Indian girls.
"Although the Indian government outlawed ultrasound for gender indentification purposes a decade ago, the practice is still rampant and often leads to sex-selective abortion, a phrase Asha has never heard before."
"The third article mentions the infanticide of baby girls, along with bride-burning and dowry deaths, as part of a series on the struggle for women's rights in India."
Oddly, Vijay, the son, becomes a disappointment to Kavita and Jasu. While Asha becomes a young woman any parent would proudly talk about to neighbors and friends. Asha becomes a journalist who is able to live two ways of life and in two worlds separated by an ocean. Kavita remains the last person in my mind. I suppose because she started the painful journey for all the others involved in this multicultural drama. She is also the one who brought a different type of joy to each person in the drama. Through her sacrifice others gained so much including herself. She gained a strong marriage and a daughter who would always remember her no matter where her home.
"EACH OF THE ROUGH STONE STEPS KAVITA CLIMBS BRINGS THE memories rushing back. Though it has been over twenty years since she shared this house with Jasu, the soles of her feet remember it as if no time has passed at all.