Saturday 26 June 2021

'The Anthropology Major' by Rashi Rohatgi

The ice on Sita’s gloved palms achieved an unexpected friction with the ice on the street as she fell, and Sita thought about that: unexpected friction. When she’d come back from her semester abroad, she’d moved into the rented room of a girl off to Senegal for the spring, and though her housemates were perfectly civil nursing students she hoped were now being feted by their hometowns she had not forged ties. It was the perfect time, she’d imagined, to bring back men without pause. Sita found that the easiest time to do so was when the men were already in her living room: the health sciences students were constantly in her living room, drinking their way through the weekend, bopping to music even she understood wouldn’t be cool after graduation, trying to score a pretty nurse but, failing that, a pretty nurse’s housemate. The problem with pre-meds and they were always pre-meds, the boys who had the confidence to flirt with a stranger – was that they always knew someone else Indian. How could they compliment her when that other girl, the one with hair just as long and silken, eyes just as deep, lips just as luscious, was a curve-wrecking thorn in their side? An anthro major, they’d repeat, your parents must be cool. One, a redhead named Micah: or else ashamed.

“Yes, but ” she realized she couldn’t quite bear to say what she wanted to say, that though she was sleeping with strangers in an attempt to wholly inhabit the present, she knew she would never be here now in the way he’d desire, for she was always also that other Indian girl, who also inhabited the now, and whose experience of shame seemed to require her. They’d fallen into bed together. She’d never felt smooth since.

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