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Culture Day

Updated: Mar 26

October 21st, 2009.

In first grade,

Aarti wore a sari to her school’s culture day.

She had never felt prettier in her life than

when she adorned the colorful bindi on the middle of her forehead

along with the ornate gold locket

that carried the image of the goddess of strength, Durga,

strung across her neck.

As Aarti entered her classroom that day,

her pillars of self esteem collapsed

as she received pointed stares from the rest of her classmates

who decided not to participate in culture day.

And as Aarti clutched her gold necklace,

She summoned all her strength

to not cry

a seven year old’s tears that usually surface

when she had fallen, cut, or bruised herself.

But saline tears did fall from her eyes.

Because her heart, her sense of identity,

her esteem

was injured.

And stayed hurt when seven year old boys and girls

pretended to trip over her sari

that she could feel every glittering sequin

bite into her coffee skin,

scratching the surface of her soon-to-begin journey

of finding the cultural pride that she had lost on

October 21st, 2009.


In sixth grade,

Aarti’s classmates cal