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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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dropfocus

The City Block That Encompassed A Childhood

She was an Indian-American growing up on a block in Bayside, Queens that resembled Sesame Street. Only instead of muppets, she had imaginary friends that kept her company while she played in the dark, cavernous basement of her family home. To the left of her house were the Ongs, who gifted her family a box [...]

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Ambulance

The Ambulance

Ambulances arouse a strong reaction in me. During the years when my mother’s schizophrenia necessitated a series of forced hospital stays, the arrival of the boxy white transporter outside our home was proof that my father, younger brother and I had failed in our efforts to bring her back. Everything we’d done in support of [...]

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 [...]

dinesh_valke

Memories

When I look back at the pictures my family took when I was a child, I can remember everything about that exact time and what was happening the moment the camera clicked. My favorite one is a picture of my cousin Kenia and I, just sitting on the bus. When you look at it, you [...]

christmastree

The End of Halfhearted Holidays (And Why I Couldn’t Be Happier)

Growing up in Montreal as part of a 4-person Bengali family, I can best describe our Christmases together as pleasant but halfhearted. There would be a Saturday or Sunday devoted to decorating, a brief Christmas morning, and, for those things needed yet rarely asked for, Boxing Day on the 26th, a cacophony of cash registers [...]