Harsimran Kaur: “Gambier, Ohio”

Gambier, Ohio

It started with dad saying “Mhmm” after everything I said to him, but I guess it all started even before that. Maybe it all started when dad started talking about euthanasia, and mom had a tumor in her knee, and Pete from down the road died. Well, maybe it even started before then, when I was in middle school and had my first kiss and accidentally stapled my tongue (both the events happening on the same day), and dad started going long hours to Gambier, Ohio, to meet a prostitute. Or maybe it started even before that, before the night my parents had sex to have me, before they went to the Netherlands on their first solo trip – two young people in love, so in love that they didn’t know any better to spend an entire summer in a city where they didn’t know a soul that they ultimately wanted to create one, where they made love before the sun blazed its light without permission. Where they ate poffertjes, stamppot boerenkool, and other food whose names they could never get right – even if they practiced writing those foreign names for the rest of their life. That’s when, that’s when they wanted to have me, in a place that was too far away from their roots that they forgot where they stemmed from. That’s when, that’s when I was produced, bit by bit, like a piece of bagel seasoning I put on everything, like a water droplet evaporating, diffusing into the air like pixie dust, like the obscure, native sky. That’s when that’s when I was fit into a suitcase, the size of my head so large that I came out sooner than anyone expected. That’s when they transported me without all the other luggage they never took a chance at, the other luggage a maverick thought staring in vain through coveted blankets, pointed shoes, pearl necklaces, and soft cashmere. That’s when that’s when dad glided his Toyota Camry into the South Street like a sleek saucer pan, and our “house” laden with bricks stared at other “houses” in uncanny after the door behind us was shut and where we came to a place called “home.” So that’s where I rooted, at home, right here, where my dad now sleeps in a frenzy, and my mother is dying from cancer. I was an average rhapsody. My dad will no longer go to Gambier, Ohio.


Harsimran Kaur is a seventeen-year-old author of The Best I Can Do Is to Write My Heart OutI am Perfectly Imperfect, and Clementines on My Poetry Table. Currently a senior in high school, she is a record holder under the India Book of Records and Asia Book of Records for her first publication at fourteen.  She is also the founder of Pastlores, an online club dedicated to literature, and an arts organization called The Creative Zine. When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be seen teaching invisible students. You can know more about her ventures at www.harsimranwritesbooks.com/.

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