Blue Boy

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal Read Free Book Online

Book: Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rakesh Satyal
and throat doctor. How on earth do his patients understand his instructions? Somewhere out there, dozens of men and women with sinus problems are backing up with mucus because of Sachin Gupta’s mystery tongue.
5) Sanjay Govind, husband of Rashmi, father of Neelam and Ashish —It never fails: the really fat Indian wife will have a really thin husband. Another internist. Now if he could only prevent his wife from filling her innards with more curry.
    At parties, my father fits in with this group so well because he is assertive. From the moment he walks into a room, he finishes his movements exactly. He reaches over and shakes everyone’s hand, nodding his head slightly each time as if striking a perfect balance between the Indian Namaste and the American How’s it goin’, pardner ; he sits down on the couch solidly, then lifts his leg to cross it over the other as soon as he is settled. When Harsh Gupta pours him a whiskey, my father takes it with another tough nod of his head, then sits back and listens to the conversation at hand, which is usually about George Bush—and soon, even Bill Clinton—and if he is helping or hurting Indians. The discussion is never about anything that does not relate to Indians. These men miss their homeland terribly. There is a longing, a sadness in their eyes that is difficult to miss.
    Perhaps as a result of this homeland-missing wistfulness, my family’s drive home from the temple is always quiet, except for the bhajans my father plays on the car stereo. While Lata Mangeshkar shivers up scales of notes, my mom, my dad, and I greet our newfound religious loyalty with silence. As I mentioned, silence is my least favorite state of being, and being in a closed space with my father gives me even more jitters than usual. But the one comforting thing is knowing that my mother will be the one to break the silence. She usually does this half an hour into our forty-five-minute return drive. A whole ride home without speaking would be abnormal, but a ride home capped with fifteen minutes of conversation redeems the trip from abnormality. Until my mother speaks, we have before us a drive full of truly Ohioan sights: the compact downtown of Cincinnati, defined by the majestic rind of Riverfront Stadium, where the Reds don their shiny crimson helmets again and again, and the tall mass of the Carew Tower, a lopsided rectangle of tan-colored brick that looks like a half-eaten bar of Kit Kat; past row upon row of maroon-colored apartment buildings, some of their windows smashed, some of their windows open with children peering out; then past nothing but highway, bordered by steakhouses and supermarkets and fast-food restaurants, a billboard here and there advertising the latest Ford pickup on sale at one of the numerous used-car dealerships in these suburbs; past nothing but fields dotted with Queen Anne’s lace and weeds bearing pale purple bulbs; then curving off an exit into a compact collage of small office buildings—all earth-toned and evoking the fifties or seventies; past convenience stores, gas stations, and more fast-food restaurants. Finally, as our car rounds past a new Burger King, my mother breaks the silence.
    “I talked to Sushil Gupta today.” She pulls down the car’s sun visor and looks at herself in the mirror. She wipes her eyes, as if to take off the age that has crept over them. She opens them wide, then relaxes, wrinkles seizing them again. “You know, Sushil is still living here, but her husband has his medical practice in Detroit, so she flies there every veekend to see him.”
    Since my mother has spoken, I can now speak freely. “What? Don’t they have a daughter now?”
    “Vell, she takes the daughter vith her.”
    “What kind of arrangement is that? Why doesn’t Sushil Auntie just move to Detroit?”
    “Vell, all her family is here.”
    “But her husband is there !”
    “Vell, he’s not going to be there for that long. He vants to take care of his patients

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