Creative Nonfiction: In America, We Say Homemaker

By Sayantani Roy

In America, we say homemaker
Nobody buys their first couch. It’s okay to get your neighbor’s hand-me-down, generally speaking. Just make sure you really know them if you know what I mean. Mattresses are a no-no, of course. And never say no to real wood. Hold onto good wood, my dad used to say. I couldn’t part with my dining table. I’m old fashioned that way. These flutes will come in handy though. An anniversary gift from one of the girls. Not a scratch, see? Yes, wine glasses, but see how they taper? You don’t drink, but you’ll have the hubby’s boss over soon. You’ll be entertaining a lot. You’ve made it to America. Eggnog’s an acquired taste. Stay away from fruit juice. Wish someone had told me. You’re too thin but give it a few months. It’s the clean air, I tell you. Dusting’s a breeze here. No need to buy a vacuum now. Someone’s sure to lend you one. And get your hubby to do it. It’s a man’s job. Weekends are for chores. Friday evenings the two of us go out. Be sure to carve time out like this. And it’s always half a burger between the two of us. Never buy a full meal. All that fat and sodium. Be sure to order chicken burgers. Hamburgers have, you know what. Not that I care. Do you crave Bengali food? Wait till you get pregnant. The fish stench will kill you. Close the closet doors when you cook fish. Crack a window open but be sure not to let out too much heat. People from the tropics never get used to central heating. By the way, bathtubs are for Americans. Remember, water bills run high. Forget that Bengali saying—joler daam--cheap like water. Smuggle poppy seeds from desh next time. Wait till you pay through your nose. It’ll be a good three years before you’ll save up money for that trip back. But do get over the habit of converting dollars to rupees in your head. Be sure not to touch these cabinets with turmeric fingers. Given your height, you’d need a stepstool. Which reminds me, stay away from leggings. Those are for long, muscular legs. It’s easy to lose your head inside department stores--all that stuff all at once. All you need is a good winter jacket. Wait for Thanksgiving. There’s a new holiday for you. If you save now, in six months’ time, you can afford a vacation. Let us know when you’re up for it. We will share rooms. Money saved is money earned. Sunday morning everything’s on sale at Lucky’s—the spinach’s a bit wilted, the tomatoes a tad overripe, but so what. We’ll give you a ride. We stick together. Don’t get into a car with someone else’s husband. The situation will arise and would require deft maneuvering. Oh, and do get a haircut. Change of place plays havoc on hair. Now you can only afford Quickcuts. Clip coupons for the whole nine yards. What? You know…the works, shampoo and everything? Just make sure you ask for a blow-dry and not...Oh, never mind. You’ve made it to America.

Sayantani Roy’s writing straddles India and the U.S., and she calls both places home. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Cold Lake Anthology, Gone Lawn, Heavy Feather Review, Impostor Poetry Journal, The Hooghly Review, The Seattle Times, and Wordgathering. She is currently enjoying her stint as a community TA in the very popular poetry MOOC ModPo ( Find her on Instagram @sayan_tani_r.