Astor Place, NYC. – She instructed me to call her Jaya when we first met on the campus of my Alma Mater two years prior. (Her full name would take up too much space on this short post.) The Starbucks at Astor Place where we rendezvoused is quiet for a Friday afternoon, especially since none of Jaya’s male cousins or younger brothers are crowding around our conversation like flies around the impoverished. to explain, she agreed to answer my questions provided I guarantee a venue where Jaya’s family members and friends wouldn’t recognize us talking in public. A little-known rule of Indian Culture stipulates that being witnessed in public with an African American male devalues a woman’s Marrying Market Value Potential (MMVP). Consequently, Jaya’s family would only be able to marry her off to men a Caste or two below her families historic standing.
Jaya’s unique. She’s perceptive, a progressive thinker of the first order: a self-avowed feminist, sociologist, with an aspiration towards working in the field of International Policy. Yet, somehow she still manages to be unaware of the magnetic pull that her lubricious looks exert on the campus gentry both male and female. She divulges her struggles with her looks given years of her family’s castigation for being slightly darker in complexion, and not as skinny as her older sister, referred to in our conversations as: “that bitch Priya.”
Five minutes into our conversation I inform her of my inability to reconcile her blind adherence to her family’s antiquated ways of thinking about race, relationships and marriage despite growing up in New York City, being educated in American educational institutions having more than one black friend and ‘rocking a party ’til the early light’ after the flash of her smile, sway of her long hair and short skirt gains her quick entry into the 40/40 club.