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Scarecrow

Paper Tigers

The first moment when I saw things the way I’d see them as an adult occurred during a French class in Grade 5. Our teacher, a pot-bellied Frenchman named Guy, was the very definition of a bon vivant. Instead of teaching the ins and outs of verb conjugation, he much preferred to regale us with [...]

iversonic

The Ghosts of Bandal House

I recently learnt that my mother’s ancestral home outside Kolkata, sold off about 15 years ago to pay outstanding debts, is haunted. And not just by anyone, but the ghost of my grandfather, who passed away in the late 80’s. Apparently the sprawling expanse of Bandal House as it’s called, three stories high, winding corridors [...]

Girl Playing Piano

Waking to a House Filled with Music

Living with a family member who has schizophrenia is like sitting atop a mountain high in the clouds; you can see normal people far below, but the prospect of joining them seems impossible. From age 10 onwards I’d witnessed my mother withdraw from the world, put on black clothing, answer to different names, and lend [...]

CubaLibre

Cuba Libre

In the weeks leading up to the vacation, my father, younger brother and I called it by a variety of jovial-sounding names. A Guy’s Getaway. The Majumdar Men take Cuba. I was 25 years old and living in the basement, feverishly working on what I hoped would be a sellable first novel while ducking calls [...]

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WinterRoad

The Palace of Justice

During the winter of 2005, I watched my father battle Quebec’s Public Curator office for control of my mother’s future. It was a low point for us all- the financial and emotional strain, coupled with the challenges of trying to somehow stay connected as a family at the tail end of over a decade of [...]

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Gavel

The Witness

Seismic shifts in my life have occurred as result of the Quebec courts, where for over a decade my parents battled for, and sometimes against one another due to my mother’s schizophrenia. In elementary school, my father initiated divorce proceedings when her violent mood swings and blatant disregard for others jeopardized our family’s future. While [...]

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The 5 Rules of a Bengali Party

One of the strangest side-effects of growing up and leaving the world of my parents behind is that, after countless bar crawls and mornings feeling like the Cryptkeeper, I find myself missing the rigid frivolity of a Bengali party. There’s something masochistic about this. Few occasions are as deeply rooted in secret rules of engagement (and [...]

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

American Muscle, Mi Amor

The first new car my Dad ever purchased was a beige boat-on-wheels called a Pontiac Parisienne. You can see it in the background of countless family pictures: a gleaming metal grille and backend of Nicki Minaj-like proportions. It was an object of pride, a symbol of the new world we’d arrived in and our desire [...]

darkmatter

The Second Promise

I’d been dating Erin for nearly 2 years before she finally met my parents. Truth be told, I’d done everything possible to delay it: intimations that they were too busy in Montreal to pay us a visit in Queens (not true), assurances that we’d set something up for an upcoming holiday or long weekend that [...]

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The Decline Of An Arm Wrestling Champ

On my birthday recently I was out at a bar in Rochester with my wife and a few friends. We were sitting at a corner table, 80’s music competing with a football game on screens overhead, the slow build of intoxication easing away inhibitions. Pitchers were being steadily drained and, as is often the case [...]