I was 12 years old when I withdrew from St. John’s International Residential School. I’m 19 now. It’s been seven years since I set foot on that South Indian campus.
Mathematics says, “36.8% of your life has passed by since.”
My mother’s basement security locker says, “You have finished middle school, high school, and since enrolled in college.”
My mind says, “The changes you’ve undergone since outweigh any estimates, infinitely.”
I scribbled firstname.lastname@example.org on a post-it note and passed it to Rajkumar.
“Raj, this has been fun. You really helped me get through this place, but my brother and I decided we’re going back to America. We can only put up with so much food poisoning.”
“This is sad, man. Who knows when we’re going to meet again?”
“I’m not sure bro, but we’re gonna have to. Email me in a couple days after I make that email account.”
We dapped up and gave another a short hug.
“Smuggle another Red Bull from the snack bar for me next time.”
“For sure, man. Have fun in America.”
I left as a young boy, half traumatized, half invigorated. I never made that e-mail account. I never re-connected with anyone I met there. I only thought – always thought – about what would’ve changed if I stayed there, if I learned to accept the difficulties, if I never came in the first place, if I stayed in America, if I stayed enrolled at St. Michael’s, continuing the Catholic education I never returned to.
These questions are inexplicable, incomprehensible, unfathomable.
I had to go back to campus. I had to see what reaction the familiar place would evoke. That was the single thing I promised myself before leaving this summer to India. It would be a suitable last destination for the cross-country journey Madi, Matt, and I planned to take together. Continue reading