Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One Sentence after Another

Note: This story began on April 25.

To misquote Marlon Brando, I am neither my brother’s keeper nor his executioner.

I don’t know how the Mumbai story swerved from fashion to immigration but I think it does, in the end, have something to do with the coincidences of birth.

When traveling in Asia, I am sometimes struck by the union of blue and brown: blue American passport, tanned brown skin. Their convergence on my person allows me to cross borders with relative ease, to mingle in crowds like a distant cousin.

Living in close proximity with millions of striving people, you can’t help but entertain the old questions of resemblance, advantage, and inequity. What if you were born to a family of peasant farmers? Or migrant laborers? To a mother who sells bootleg DVDS on a dusty bridge and a father who scavenges cardboard and Styrofoam in his bicycle cart?

Favored with the benefits of the American systems of economy, justice, and education, what have I made of myself? A bewildered onlooker.

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