American Dreams

"How thin you look!
Thinner than before.
America makes everyone fairer and fatter --
But you."
So they say when I return to India,
Every summer
Of every year.
My friends and neighbors deeply regret
That a dark-skinned woman having gone to America
Should return unchanged
Without even the comfort
Of gifts of microwaves, after-shaves --
Or happy endings.
My aunt brings news
Of her daughter's wedding
Arranged to a doctor, green-card holder
With a split-level house
In the "more-beautiful-than-the-soap-opera"
Real life mountains of Santa Barbara.
"An excellent match. Most suitable."
"Because Rachna is fair,
Even fairer than white women"
(Who prefer to be brown
On the photogenic beaches of Santa Barbara).
"He chose her for her color.
Top doctor: guaranteed high income."
So Rachna will fly
To multiculti US
The envy of her friends, bride of a doctor;
But she will turn brown
In the eyes of Americans
Just another colored, once she touches down.
Where white can turn brown, but brown can't turn white
And brown meets black
In a rainbow of collisions,
What will she do,
When she returns to India and all her friends say,
"American makes everyone fairer and fatter --
How true!"

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