Harvard, Cancel Culture, and Narrowing Possibilities in America

I. Doubts Come in Grey

On winter mornings over the 2 years I spent in graduate school, I often awoke to a greyness common in Boston. Within the dorm, which had all the charm of Soviet-era tenements, a singular, destitute corner window provided the morning light. When it seeped through on the coldest mornings in February and I lacked the motivation to rise, I would bow my knees out to the sides so my feet didn’t hang off the mattress, and nap there a little longer like a blanketed frog. I had arrived at Harvard with colorful dreams. …


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Buddy’s car raced along the highways towards the laundromat. Patches of unadulterated green grass spilled off the ends of highway bridges, only to be stopped by suburban sprawl. As Buddy drove off the highway, he passed by one of his favorite spots in Plano, a fenced-off patch of grass where small horses would often be grazing. There was something about the purity of that land and those horses, the way they stayed calm in the midst of the surrounding concrete jungle, that soothed Buddy. Today, when he passed by there were no horses, but instead a single sign, indicating that the land would be the site of the next Toll Brothers housing development. …


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“Why aren’t you picking up my calls?” Buddy’s mom answered his call with an attitude.

“Just been busy with a case, amma.”

“What about the last three days?”

“Can’t you start a conversation with ‘How are you’ for once?”

“What did you eat for lunch?”

“Chicken and rice”, he lied.

“Good. Your Dad and I are getting ready for a dinner at Vibha Aunty’s house. Are you coming?

“Nope, Bala Uncle eats my head about MBA schools and tutoring his demon.”

“Venkat is a nice kid.”

“A shit kid.”

She sighed. “Where are you?”

“In Plano. I was serious about taking a case. …


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His head was pounding. No, he heard pounding on the door. Ok,both.

You gotta be joking, he thought, it’s Sunday. He grumbled and accepted the fate of his rude awakening. He shouted “Coming!” but it came out as a mumble. He gathered his vocal strength. “Coming! Just a sec!” and it came out loud enough for the knocking to stop.

Peace.

He thought about going back to sleep, but the sun had crawled its way through the trenches of his blinds and was warring upon his eyelids. He surveyed the scene with blurry eyes: the familiar colors of his Looney Tunes blanket enveloped him. He laid on his couch and in front of him, the room was half-brightened. …


Written January 2019

I went to Sabarimala in December of 2009. I was a college freshman, sporting unseemly peach fuzz on my upper lip. My father and I boarded a train to Kerala. He was in māla, the term we used for men who practiced 40 days of austerity in advance of their visit to Sabarimala temple. He wore black all over, smeared ash on his forehead. He slept on the floor at home, ate blander food than the rest of us. I was supposed to call him Swami, as in saint, out of respect. …

About

Abhijith Ravinutala

Writer in Atlanta. Fiction in Glimmer Train, Chicago Tribune, Jaggery Lit. Working on short story collection & debut novel. More at Abhijithr.com

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