“Why are you so obsessed with shapeshifters?” I couldn’t believe that was my mom’s first comment after I let her read the story I had spent the entire summer of sixth grade working on.
“They’re just cool.”
“Maybe you should try writing about something else. You shouldn’t get too stuck to one idea.” She gently placed the packet on my desk. “I noticed something. Why are all the names sounding Indian?”
I didn’t have an answer to that.
My birth certificate says I was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY, but I’m not sure how true it is. If I was born and raised in New York, it doesn’t explain why the smell of chili powder turns me into putty when I enter the kitchen, or why I grew up listening to Bollywood music in the car. I share my name, Avanti, with a kingdom from the Mahabharata, but it is also a well-used command in Italian.
Around fifth grade, I discovered the radio on my iPod Nano. If I plugged in my headphones and got to 104.7 FM, I had instant access to every lunch conversation for the next three years. In freshman year, Twitter replaced my radio. I followed countless news outlets to feel like I was part of the conversation around me. I soon realized that I probably never “knew” anything and that this was becoming an obsession.
My sphere of “knowing” rests vaguely in Bollywood hits from the early 2000s and the internet culture of this decade, but I know for certain who I am. I’ve been an informed shapeshifter since birth.
By Avanti Khare
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