The Good Old Days: Shambhavi Thakur


“On one of my last days in kindergarten in India, as I was getting ready to leave and emigrate over to America, my friend had gotten me a little pencil pouch as a goodbye present. He put little candies and things in the pouch, but when I opened it later ants had broken into the pouch and ate the candies. I still have the pouch here somewhere, though. 

On my first day of first grade in America, I entered the classroom and we had a substitute who did not know that I was a new student. So she asked me a question on my first day of school and I didn’t understand so I just sat there and I was crying. And the teacher asked, “Why are you crying?”, and she didn’t hear what I said, so this other girl in my class named Rae repeated louder, “She says that she doesn’t know how to speak English.”And I remember the sub responded, “Well, you’re doing just fine, sweetheart.” It was the first time I had ever heard that word, and that’s why I use “sweetheart” a lot now. 

So I became best friends with that girl named Rae at school, and her friend Rose.

For some reason, they decided it would be a good idea to cut my hair. We took some siccors, and scissors in the hands of first graders isn’t ever a good idea. And Rae said, “Oh my God, we should totally cut your hair!” So in first grade they cut my hair in class, and when the substitute found out she got really mad. She put my hair in a little plastic baggie, and she gave the plastic baggie with my hair inside to my mom. My mom held that against me the whole year, and she pinned the plastic baggie to the wall in our living room, to showcase what I had done to everyone who came to our house. I was so embarrassed. 

A couple years later, I moved to a small town in Washington, near Seattle. Everyone there was very community oriented, it was such a small town, like the ones you see in the movies. Everyone knew everyone else at school. Everyone knew your neighbors, and everyone knew the local firefighters and the sheriff. I lived in a relatively well-sized apartment complex, across the street from the fire station. And you could walk down to this small downtown area with local parlors and the ice cream shop, and a Fred Meyer’s, which is basically a chain grocery store you’ll find in Washington. It was nice and small, and it was home.”