Write About Race (Gauraa Shekhar)

What they want me to write about: how, like every Indian family, mine harbored hope for a fair-skinned daughter. How, they thought of the names in preparation: Arjuni, Divyatha, Gauri. Names, that, in God-fearing Sanskrit, represented the most desirable trait for an Indian daughter—fairness. How, the sun tinged me with every successive playground visit, darkening my congratulatory wheatish complexion to desert sand, umber. How, as a result, I was doused with sunscreen, dressed in full-sleeves and trousers through torrid temperatures until I eventually gave up the sun

What I want to write about: wanting to be thinner and thinner, whittling myself down to a size so barely there that I could disappear and no one could ever look at me again

What they want me to write about: watching my grandmother spend her life staring down a steel boiling pan, stirring in leaves and spices until the water boiled ochre

What I want to write about: embezzling Xanax from my sister’s pillbox while she is at work; how the women in my family always had a delicate assortment of pills but never the prescriptions to refill them

What they want me to write about: exile; the cobbler on the footpath of Andheri West, who mended shoes on the same asphalt for twenty years, the man in a Nehru hat who sold coconuts across the street from him—a cardboard sign advertising ‘coconets’ propped up proudly on display

What I want to write about: the piss-yellow afternoon of the city I’ve known forever but will never understand

What they want me to write about: interracial relationships; how same textures of light touch our skin different

What I want to write about: getting high, halving bagels; having afternoon sex

What I want to be: detached from the icky, gooey, incessancy of others


Gauraa Shekhar is a writer in Manhattan. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod JournalContrarySonora ReviewFiction SoutheastX-R-A-YFlash Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a Founding Editor of No Contact, and the Interviews Editor at Maudlin House. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University.