Brown Girl

by Indigo Mudbhary

Contains strong language

After Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’

“The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.” 
– President William McKinley

practice your Nepali three times a day; don’t ever forget your mother tongue; always speak English outside the house or people will think you’re a terrorist; here’s how to fold dough into a samosa; here’s how to make mattar paneer; here’s how to make the perfect momo; here’s how to make the perfect momo sauce; here’s how to make a peanut butter sandwich for school so the other kids don’t make fun of you; here’s how to wrap a sari; here’s where to put your bindi; here’s how to cry during a Bollywood movie; here’s how to smile and nod when a white boy makes jokes about eating with your hands; here’s how to get good grades; always tell your relatives you want to be a doctor even if you don’t want to; never have sex or do drugs until you’re at least thirty-five; here’s how to fulfill your father’s big American dream; don’t worry about slurs because even though they say Paki here they don’t do it too often; here’s how to be an American; here’s how to be Nepalese; always be more Nepalese than American but don’t be too Nepalese or people will think you’re a fucking curry muncher and we can’t have that; here’s how to say namaste to your auntie; here’s how to say namaste to your uncle; here’s how to say namaste to someone you want to be friends with; here’s how to say namaste to someone you don’t like at all; here’s how to make thukpa; here’s how to make a mandala; always buy sand for a mandala from Michael’s because they have the best colored sand in America at least; here’s how to not seem too American when you visit your relatives; here’s how to not seem too Nepalese at school; always laugh politely when someone confuses Nepal with Naples even if it annoys you; here’s how to point out Nepal on a map for white people; here’s how to turn a prayer wheel; never give food to a monkey even if it’s cute; this is where you put your statue of ganesha; this is where you put your statue of ganesha when friends come over; this how you pray to a god; this is how you pray to multiple gods; this is how you ask a god for something; this is how you ask multiple gods for something; here’s how to light a diya; here’s how to be a good Auntie; here’s how to be a good cousin; don’t be mean to white people who say Nepal is basically India, they don’t know any better; don’t be mean to white people; don’t be mean to white men; don’t be mean to powerful white people; just don’t be mean to white people; here’s how to place an offering at a temple; here’s how to receive tikka; don’t wipe your tikka off your forehead even if it itches; stay calm during airport security screenings or else you’re essentially a terrorist; here’s how to explain the difference between hinduism and hindi to a white person but it’s better if you don’t at all; don’t dye your hair it never looks good on brown people; here’s how to whiten your skin just a little bit; here’s how to approach an elephant; here’s how to approach an elephant in the room; here’s how to make the perfect dal; here’s how to make the perfect dal bhat; always finish your food; here’s how to be a brown person in America but really you should just try to be more white because we don’t want anyone thinking that you’re some fucking terrorist.