(Left, me 1984 | Right, Rubina 2015)
These photos thrill me.
I love seeing Rubina in the same sweater I wore as a little girl. I delight in any opportunity to share with my precious Ruby. Especially pieces of my childhood. You may think I’m a terrible mother, but I found so much joy in hearing her shriek as I tugged this sweater over her head because I remember shrieking that same shriek when my mom forced my head through that exact small, circular space.
I love tradition. I treasure tradition. I often wonder if I cling to it so tightly because tradition and memories are the thread which binds me to my family in a way that genes do not. Being adopted is a beautiful gift that I do not take lightly or for granted but it is not so beautiful that it overcomes my desire to be connected to my roots. I never felt separate from my own family within the walls of our home. Not once. Not even for a fleeting moment.Yes, I wished I looked like them with fairer skin and blonder hair but only because outside of the safety of my own home the world separated me from them by pointing out these blatant and obvious differences. My connection to my parents and brothers runs deep; maybe deeper even than some connections in families where there are biological ties. The truth is, though, that as I grow and mature I am overwhelmed by this great desire to be connected to my Indian heritage in a very real way. I am incredibly fortunate in that I am not lacking the feeling of belonging somewhere. I know I belong with my family. However, I do struggle with feeling I belong in two worlds. Two cultures. Two countries. To love one and want to discover the other is not a betrayal as I’ve told myself for many years. It’s humanity. It’s honesty. I’m in the process of working through these feelings; of articulating them and learning how to hold onto one part of myself and reach out for another. This is real life. I’m reaching because I have a need to know and understand where I came from and I crave any connection, small as it may be, to the woman who gave birth to me. I’m holding on because I have a firmly built foundation with a family who loves me and accepts me wholly; who cares nothing of genes but only of connection on every other level. And to me, that is the gift of all gifts; that I am theirs and they are mine.
I’m so thankful my mom held onto so many treasured pieces so I could share them with Rubina. This is so much more than a sweater. These threads were woven and knit together purposefully, intentionally and passionately to create something beautiful and colorful as is the case with the threads of traditions and memories that bind me to my family. These are the traditions that remind me of home and of a family to which I am fully connected.