Monday, September 03, 2007

hopes for the next generation

We don't have a lot of family on this continent. Aside from my parents and brother, it's pretty much just my dad's sister's husband's father's nephew in Long Island and his wife. Whom we almost never see.

So it was kind of nice to get a visit this weekend from my cousin's best friend Ayesha and Ayesha's husband. They took the Amtrak up from Tennessee. My dad's niece is an only child, so Ayesha is really a lot more like a sister to her. And when I was in Mumbai for my cousin's wedding, Ayesha was so kind and wonderful to me. It was great to see her again.

They've only been in the States a few years for his job, and my parents went out of their way to make them feel at home and comfortable. I think my mom sees a bit of herself circa 1977 in them because she kept referencing how people in India think living here is a cakewalk but it's a lot more difficult than they imagine. Especially when you have no family or support system and have to figure things out for yourselves. My parents drove around our town showing them places we'd lived (some of which I'd never even seen) and talked about how back in the day they had their white friend Tom inquire about apartments for rent because whenever my dad would call, there suddenly weren't any available. They were quick to add that things are a lot better these days.

I felt a little out of place in their fish-out-of-water bonding, because this has always been my bowl and I was too young to process what my parents went through back then. We walked around the neighborhood my parents have lived in for 21 years, stopping at the park and near the subdivision swimming pool.

About halfway down the bikepath, just as we came to the pool, several people splashing around in it stopped and turned to look at us. One guy, who looked to be in his mid20s, glared. I didn't make much of it until we were turned the other way and heard a rubber ball smash into the chain-link fence right behind us. Hard and loud. Then another one. These were definitely not cavort-y overthrows but pointed baseball pitching aimed right at us. The worst part about incidents like that is that even though you can't prove that they are hate-based, your gut knows it without a doubt. So I made us turn around and get out of there, because if one more ball smacked the fence between us, I didn't know if I'd be able to stop myself from hopping over it and tearing out that kid's long stringy hair by the fistful. That wouldn't make a nice impression on our guests at all.

As we walked down the path, we saw a bunch of girls in hijabs carrying brightly-wrapped gifts into the meeting hall attached to the pool, which was obviously rented for the occasion. I wondered if those nasty people in the pool (and I say people because no one said anything to him, including the lifeguard) had seen the girls, made some assumptions and taken it out on us. I couldn't help but worry for those girls and their party.

I was seething about that incident the rest of the weekend. Later I mentioned it to my mother, and she thought she was the only one who had noticed that pool guy. I'm sure we all noticed, even though no one said a word. It's sad that we tend to remove ourselves from a situation like that and rarely respond, even just by asking if the guy had something he'd like to say. Ball-throwing is tame, but will the kids around him who saw what he did build on the sentiment in the future? I can't help but worry for my children.

That bit of nasty didn't stop me from delighting in the fact that the bump that is Ayesha's tummy will grow into a baby come January. My mom and I are convinced it's going to be a girl, so while Ayesha and husband were at the Sears Tower and Shedd Aquarium yesterday, I made a pair of Saartje's Booties (Ale, I think she's in NL!). Ever since I saw the pattern, I've been looking for someone to make them for.

I'm really hoping it's a girl.

15 comments:

Teej said...

As someone who doesn't have any outwardly obvious qualities that make her stand out as different, I cannot imagine having to deal with someone denying me an apartment because of the way I talk or throwing a ball in my family's direction in a passive aggressive (outright aggressive?) display of prejudice. I mean, when people discover that I'm an atheist, they want to hide their children and stone me to death, but I don't have to wear my "ATHEIST" t-shirt every day.

It sucks that some people angrily shun what they're not familiar with. But the world is changing, and I think that sweet little baby will have far fewer stringy haired, ball chucking jackasses to deal with. Here's hoping.

Finally, those may be the cutest baby booties I've ever seen.

The Stormin Mormon said...

Quite awkward if it wasn't a girl...

;-)

Alexandra said...

oh my goodness!!! "sara's booties"? you've knitted her a pair of baby cloggs :) hehehe

abt the idiots that were throwing balls. firstly, let me just tell you that it was not because you guys are not white, I guarantee you they would have thrown that ball at ANY family that would be walking by. these people are just IDIOTS. that's the one good thing about CITY vs. SUBBURBS is that idiots like that just get SHOT in the city and in the subburbs they unfortunately feel at home and at ease.

omar said...

You made booties while they were out at the Sears Tower and Shedd Aquarium? How does that happen? I don't know if I could BUY booties in that time.

Lia said...

What Omar said - how fast do you knit, girl?

But seriously, I love those booties. I also hope it's a girl, for that reason alone.

cadiz12 said...

teej: it's true; i never really thought much about it until i took this race discussion class in college. all the people of color were made aware of their differences at very early ages, and the people who were not outwardly identifiable didn't always feel discrimination until much later, but theirs may have been more under the surface (i.e. class, religion, etc). it was an interesting course.

stormin: yeah, i'm thinking if it's a boy i'm going to have to make regular socks, because even in blue, those booties would look a little girly.

ale: you are totally right, clogs! maybe getting shot is a little extreme; i'd settle for a stern talking to or maybe a smack upside the head.

omar and lia: have you SEEN the shedd aquarium? it's an all-day excursion! believe me, i had plenty of time. not only did they go to sears and shedd, but they hit the art institute, field museum, adler planetarium, devon street AND john hancock building. that little pregnant lady was doing A LOT of walking.

jazz said...

eeeeeee!!!

those are the sweetest booties EVER.

know what you mean about racism. and i've got high hopes for the next generation too...

ML said...

CUTE booties.

That hate thing is so scary but maddening at the same time!

Jon said...

I didn't want to admit it, but you've left me no choice. Cadiz is better at knitting booties than I am.

There, I've said it. Are you happy?

As to the other stuff... I wish I had an answer, but I don't.

Sphincter said...

That pool dickhead makes me so angry. Would he have done that if he seriously thought he would get his ass beaten? I don't think so. I don't think we need more hate crime laws. I think we need prompt and immediate ass beatings. Maybe by Ninjas.

(Oops. That sounds kind of hateful, doesn't it? I just can't tolerate intolerance!)

jinius said...

ugh as much as race relations have progressed it's truly sobering to know that there will always be ignorant people out there. at least we can band together and swap stories lol.

love the pink booties!

highcontrast said...

you know, this may very well be one of my favorite-est posts of yours - if only for the fact that you've gotten everyone to type 'BOOTIES'. a lot.

and i agree, i've seen some pretty fooooine booties in my day, but these are some of the cutest booties i've seen in a long while.

velocibadgergirl said...

The pool story makes me so very sad.

The baby shoes, they brighten my day.

cc said...

I don't know which I love more this reflective, well-written post (albeit sad)or those gorgeous booties. I think it's a tie.

Librarian Girl said...

FUCK that pool guy. Asshole.

That shit drives me insane. I've had that happen to me when I'm with my parents, who are these sweet little old people. Who the hell harrasses sweet little old people? Fuckers like pool guy. AUUUUGH.