No One’s Perfect, not Even Indian Girls (updated)

Listen, my children to your Akka so old,
For she has a story, which today should be told.

Once upon a time, well over a decade ago
Akka received a call from a voice whispering lowÂ…

“Help. Oh my GodÂ…I don’t know what to doÂ…”
“Wait—Gigi? What’s happening to you?”

“Anneka, I can’t take it anymore; I just want to dieÂ…”
“Shhh, stopÂ…you’re a devout Catholic, I know that’s a lie.”

“WhatÂ…no smile? That’s hilarious, G. Laugh.”

But my own laugh faltered and fell back in my chest,
This was no cry for help, this didn’t feel like a test.

“Anneka, I love you, please always remember that,”

“You stupid bitch Geee, stop, take that back!”

“I won’t let you say Good-bye, this isn’t the end,
I refuse to let you take away my best friend.

I know you feel like you are already dead,
I know about the demons in your heart and your head.

But please, don’t do this, it’s a permanent answer
To a temporary—

She sobbed, “This is worse than cancer,”

“At least then people would feel sorry for—”
“Screw them, and if they judge youÂ…well, fuck them more.
I know; they and your past are impossible to ignoreÂ…


But I also know that I’ve never met anyone with a purer heart,
That you are spun from light and goodness, unlike this tart.

Gigi, where are you, I’m already in my car
Damnit, this is Davis, you can’t be that farÂ…”

“No, please, don’t. I’ve been enough of a burden to you—”

“Gee, I swear to God, I’m going to find you and slap you.”

“Anneka, please don’t hate me for what I’m about to do,
Promise me you’ll forgive me, I’m so sorryÂ…I love you.”


Click.

“GIGI!” I screamed in to an ominously silent phone,
yanking the german car she loved over to the shoulder, alone.

Redial, redial, redial, at least twenty times
Tachycardiac beats and my breath form rhymes.“BREATHE PROPERLY Latha, you need to be calmÂ…”
I’m hyperventilating, I need a brown bag, I want my mom.

I feel crazed, like I can’t bear to be inside my skin,
My heart and my stomach take turns twisting, within.

“Am I okay to drive?” I whimper to the me in the rearview
“Do you have a choice??” my reflection hisses back, on cue.

During a race to west Davis, Yokohamas stain old tar
An illegal U-turn, a floored pedal, it’s not that far.

Brakes squeal, the front end bounces, fuck the 5 mph sign
I don’t care about parking lot rules when I’m in such a bind.

Daddy’s car is half on the sidewalk, half on a lawn once pristine
I’ll take what I need, this is now an emergency scene.

Jump out and run past dusty security cam,
Poor car is unalarmed because that’s not what I am.

“Hold on, Geee, I’m coming,” I murmur through tears
Everything is too quiet, increasing my fears.

I pound on the door, shouting her name
Then brace my shaking body with both hands on the frame.


Nothing.

I pound again, rattle a door knob, wish my shoulder were stronger,
Want to break down the door, want to keep her here longer.

I’m out of breath, out of heart, and I’m almost out of hope.
This time her voice sounded different, like she couldn’t cope

With what she had carried around inside of her for one anguished year.
Gigi, precious best friend, it took me a few minutes, but I’m here.

Dazed, I walked back to my car to try and call her home phone
To tell her that I’d hold her, that she would never be alone.

But there’s no answer, either from her cordless or my aching head
I’m consumed with terrifying possibility, replaying the words that she said.

I force myself to attend my favorite class; I’m trying not to cry.
Can’t focus on the the History of Mogul India, stare at lecturer’s tie.

Two hours later, merciful epiphany as defibrillator—
Rush to my sorority house, suddenly I’m an investigator

Enter my security code, open sesame, open DG,
rush for the basement door, trip down stairs clumsily.

Suppress the nausea rising from my core,
Stumble over rush-related clutter on the floor.

Inside the filing cabinets, lyrics, financials, info for pledges
I almost miss the hot pink hanging folder with such frayed edgesÂ…

“C.O.B. 1995″ There should be just six apps within
Jesus, DG and Jen (our Pres), forgive me for this sin.

“Fernandes, Gisele Grace” is shoved in my Jansport ski, then there were five.
“Please God, Mary, anyone, please just keep her aliveÂ…”

Back in goes pink, inside the drawer, inside dust-covered steel.
Up I go, up old stairs, though it’s only down that I feel.

“Anneka! What are you DOING?” someone haughtily inquires.
“Nothing, Whitney, go back to ‘Days’.” I leave, avoiding quagmires.

Inside my car, I whip out her file and scan for what I needÂ…

“Permanent phone: (510)Â…-Â….”

Gigi laid out like thisÂ…it’s almost unbearable to read.


Shaking hands dial cell while quaking lungs inhale.

Far away, in the east bay there’s ringingÂ…

Â…my arms look like Braille.

Tiny, tinny voice tentatively lilts a “Hullo?”
The most difficult thing I’ve had to askÂ…can I do this? No.

“Hi AuntieÂ…I’m Anneka, I go to Davis. I’m Gigi’s best–”
“I think I know you. You are her Indian friend, yes?”

“Yes. Auntie, I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m worried. Is Gigi okay?”

“No, my dearÂ…she isn’t. Gigi overdosed earlier today.”

:+:

I left my car in front of the DG house, in a space which wasn’t mine,
To sleepwalk through traffic on Russell, crossing double yellow lines.

Numb and lost, nauseous with guilt, I traipsed through the MU,
Through the quad, then past Shields, I passed Mrak hall, too.

Down by the still green water, amid the ducks and dirt,
Fell to my knees on soggy ground, punch drunk from all the hurt.

Closed watering eyes, let sobs implode, shook like I was on fault
Nursed torturous guilt like it was a glass of rare Clynelish malt

Had she been on the other side of the front door which I feebly attacked?

Or at her Doctor-parentsÂ’ home instead, which was predictably drug-packed?

Oh, Gigi, why? How could you do, you do not do
Even ifÂ…itÂ…was so wrenching to live through.

Good Indian girls donÂ’t ever get knocked up,
In fact, good Indian girls, they never fuck up.

Good Indian girls get rid of their issues
(Except when they are Catholic, then they need tissues.)

Handmaiden of God Gigi wore her crucifix to mass
said rosaries of innocent wishes semi-weekly, before class.

Meanwhile, Dominatrix Anna made livid CRs bicker
her backpack festooned with an “Another Republican for CHOICE” bumper sticker.

But Gigi was the one who ended up having to choose,
Gigi was the girl with everything to lose.

Pre-med Gigi, always sober and responsible
Biochem major Gigi, lying half-dead in the hospital.

Our lady of sorrows, last year died on a table
Our angel Gigi, was never again stable.

Penitent Gigi never forgave herself
Suicidal Gigi, because she hated herself.

Unwilling enigma Gigi, did your parents know?
Where Gigi the sinner and I once had to go?

If they did, do they know you did it to protect them,
You sacrificed your sanity so your error wouldnÂ’t affect them.

You swallowed your misery as your Mother railed about Roe v Wade
You wept to me later on the phone about the mess you had made.

You are still an angel, a lady, our GigiÂ’s still good.
You did everything as well as you possibly could.

I refuse to believe in a deity who would hate you.
I refuse to condone those who would berate you.

I refuse to forget the look on your face in that recovery room
I refuse to forgive your bastard ex- “Dev”, who fled so soon.

I refuse to give up on you, on women, on whatÂ’s right,
I refuse to let the cross round my neck turn noose-tight.

I wish I could show your Mom and other “prayer warriors” your pain.
I wish theyÂ’d grok how your agony never wanes.

I wish they understood that no one giddily throws a post-abortion fete.

I wish they were as compassionate as the example Jesus set.

I wish they believed me when I said I think life begins at conception
I wish they understood voting for choice wonÂ’t send me in hellÂ’s direction.

Precious Gigi didnÂ’t deserve self-imposed death sentences;
Gigi deserved love, babies and white picket fences.

We disagreed for four years whenever we argued,
On our way to class, in the car, on the phone, over food…

But those dozens of times we debated the morality of a doctor’s knife,
Darling Gigi of mine, I was pro-choice because I was pro- your life.

:+:

Names and certain details have been altered to protect the rights of a survivor who got what she deserved—a simple kind of life with her husband and children in Northern California.

125 thoughts on “No One’s Perfect, not Even Indian Girls (updated)

  1. Wow, it’s amazing. Bravo. You have addressed so many issues in this post, Very nice. I keep reading it over and over again and I keep find something new each time.

  2. must be tough to be a pro choice catholic!

    Yep, it is.

    Powerful piece. Sometimes personal experiences can say so much more than articles or stats or studies. Thank you for articulating a righteous anger that should never die down. Every women deserves the right to choose her own destiny, and no one should have the right to judge anyone unless we’ve been in their shoes.

  3. Thank you, Anna, for taking the time to say this so poignantly. It’s good to have you back. And as Vi said, all the best to your friend and everyone who’s experiencing something similar.

  4. gigi is lucky to have a friend like you anna. and we are lucky that you chose to share this story with us. thank you.

    and yes, often there is too much pressure to be perfect. i relate.

  5. That is some powerful writing ANNA. I am glad that she get to live the exact happy life she always deserved.

  6. Damn that is some powerful stuff. Nicely done and well written Anna.

    Waves came crashing, like a fist to the jaw…

    Arguing abortion is like banging your head against the wall. One rarely changes the other’s mind and in the end your head just ends up being bloody and tired.

    I believe in a loving God who brings grace and forgiveness not judgement and condemnation. I know this is not going to be a popular opinion on this board, but I believe abortion is wrong. However I don’t believe in condeming people who believe otherwise. Each person and his or her experiences are unique. Obviously it’s always easy to say what one would do in hypothetical situations compare to when the burden of reality smacks you in the face and your feet are held to the fire.

    I always find it ironic that most Pro-life people are Pro Death Penalty and a large proportion of the Pro-Choice crowd is Anti-Death Penalty. In the end we all make choices, some good, some bad. As humans we are all fallible and we all make mistakes. Having a difference of opinion is not meant to be a judgement of a contrary position, so ladies and gentleman please do not misread my intentions.

    May God’s grace be upon you.

  7. You’re a classy guy, Asha’s Dad. I’m glad that little girl is growing up with you as a father. Even if I do disagree with you, I know your opinion is well reasoned and heartfelt.

  8. I am pro choice but I think its a very tough choice for anybody to make and if given a right to make a choice like that, that right should be exercised very responsibly and in very rare circumstances.

    Having said that, pro choice advocates see abortion only from the perspective of a women. I think a man can also get involved in an unwanted pregnancy and might be in a situation in which he can’t afford a baby in his life at the moment, but there is no option for him in situations like these. This in some cases may leave men vulnerable to exploitation.

    No attempt to threadjack, just a food for thought. And any feminists planning to tear me a new one, please be gentle :) .

  9. Upbhransh That’s why we have condoms, vasectomies and the male pill coming soon. So you (as a man) do have control over whether or not you have children. This is high school stuff, not ‘feminist’ stuff. You have to take responsibility for the direction your life takes. If you can’t afford a baby and don’t want to be ‘exploited’, wear a rubber. Every time.

  10. Anna, welcome back! Gigi is lucky to have such a loving friend. Makes me wish I still had my Gigi around. Very well-written and powerful piece.

  11. I just saw that the documentary ‘Jesus Camp’ was nominated for the Oscars. The film synopsis on the Oscar’s website:

    FILM SYNOPSIS: At a summer camp for Evangelical Christians, children have their faith reinforced and their ideology honed by the camp’s founder, Becky Fischer, whose stated objective is to “take back America for Christ.” Under Fischer’s tutelage, the children speak in tongues and pray for the appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices.

    Times like this I realize how much I take for granted living in Canada. It is incomprehensible to me that a choice could be taken away from a woman based on someone else’s moral precepts.

    (P.S. Anna: you are brilliant :)

  12. A powerful piece. I feel kind of depressed now.

    On a side note, Anna, have you noticed that the tempo kind of matches that of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song? Sing it out loud like that and you’ll see. Hehe…

  13. Anna seems like an awesome person and if we met, I get the feeling that i would want to be her friend. So really, my comment isnÂ’t meant to offend.

    This piece here would work well as a spoken-word performance, especially since itÂ’s very on-topic this week.

    However, I can’t stand aside while people (comment # 14.) suggest that “No One’s Perfect…” belongs in The New Yorker. (That‘s my favorite commute reading, dammit!)

    New Yorker? Nope.

    On your blog? Sure, nothing should stop you.

  14. coach diesel,

    Upbhransh That’s why we have condoms, vasectomies and the male pill coming soon. So you (as a man) do have control over whether or not you have children. This is high school stuff, not ‘feminist’ stuff. You have to take responsibility for the direction your life takes. If you can’t afford a baby and don’t want to be ‘exploited’, wear a rubber. Every time.

    Sorry, totally forgot that condoms work all the time :) . Also how are the arguments you are giving any different from arguments given by some pro life people to women ? (although I know some real nut jobs consider even condom and pill usage as abortions)

    Having said that, I totally agree that a fool who cant keep a rubber handy is …well.. a fool!

  15. Also how are the arguments you are giving any different from arguments given by some pro life people to women ?

    Some of the arguments are NOT different. I’d say everyone would like to reduce the abortion rate (whether that’s a priority in the grand scheme of things is another story). HOW is the issue.

    For pro-choice advocates, abortion is the last resort when all else fails. These folks also are proactive regarding education and access to birth control. For many pro-life supporters, science-based education (to kids BEFORE hormones kick in) and access to contraceptives encourage sexual activity (or are morally wrong), thus these avenues of pregnancy prevention are blocked.

    If a man is truly, sincerely, concerned that his desire to have a baby will be trumped by a woman’s desire to control her uterus, he would abstain.


    @anna – thank you for bringing ALL facets of humanity involved to the table

  16. Totally co-signing Asha’s Dad and agree with Upbhransh that the man’s point of view is very rarely considered.

    I know two guys who are childless (one in his 30′s, one in his 50′s!) whose girlfriends became pregnant and had abortions with consulting them–nothing like finding out from your girl’s sister–and both would have embraced fatherhood if asked.

  17. I’m going to assume ANNA posted this to start a dialog about abortion considering Roe vs Wade’s anniversary this week so I’m going to take the tangent. Please tell me not to if that wasn’t your purpose ANNA.

    that the man’s point of view is very rarely considered.

    I realize this is one of those statements that can launch a 1000 arguments. I’m sensitive to the feeling. I understand. But at the end of the day the woman who has bear the child for 9 months, have the child and ultimately be responsible for it and perhaps make life altering decisions to accommodate it should truly have the upper hand in deciding whether to go with it or not.

    I realize that it allows the man lesser freedom to weigh in on the decision but so be it. Life is as I’ve known it never black and white and certainly not clearly defined. We have far too many unwanted children and children not well cared for in this world to force someone to bring an unwanted child into this world. If a man wants to have children then he can adopt sincerely, there are many children out there looking for homes, if he can’t find a woman to have his child.

    But the line of thinking where he may have wanted the woman who he got pregnant to keep it even if she didn’t is selfish. And as is her decision to not keep it and she has ever right to be so because at the end of the day it’s about her body.

  18. JOAT, you summarized it beautifully. I think these should be the scenarios for having a baby

    man wants woman wants -> go for it!

    man doesn’t want woman doesn’t want -> Explore other options (adoption etc), if not possible then go for abortion.

    man wants woman doesn’t want -> Sorry sir, but its the womens choice. Again explore other options first!

    man doesn’t want woman wants -> A man should have a right to ask women for giving the baby for adoption if he doesn’t want it and if
    the women wants to keep the child then its her choice, and her responsibility to raise the kid.

  19. …the woman who has bear the child for 9 months, have the child and ultimately be responsible for it and perhaps make life altering decisions to accommodate it…

    I hear you JOAT but stop after “have the child”. I know it sounds corny but “Adoption is an option.” Any point of serious debate should center around whether or not the burden of potential morning sickness, stretch marks and physical discomfort are enough to overshadow any input a man might want to have over the destiny of his dna contribution.

    Ideally, if a man wants to have his child, there would be laws in place for the mother to be compensated for her loss of comfort while he lays claim to full responsibility for raising the child. But alas, that is not the world we live in.

    What we die hard feminists don’t want to admit, however much we realize it is that regardless of which “choice” you pursue, with unplanned pregnancy, the woman loses out everytime. She’ll be the one checking the “abortion” box on her medical history everytime she sees a new doctor, not the man.

  20. I’m going to assume ANNA posted this to start a dialog about abortion considering Roe vs Wade’s anniversary this week so I’m going to take the tangent. Please tell me not to if that wasn’t your purpose ANNA.

    I think her purpose was to commemorate a significant political day, in a sincere, nuanced, non-judgmental way.

    So many brown girls have lived through either or both sides of this situation and yet itÂ’s infrequently discussed; if thereÂ’s one thing this site is intended for, itÂ’s the fullness of the 2nd gen experience. For many women, this is part of that.

    Keep your words kind and contemplative; youÂ’ve all been doing just fine. ItÂ’s a sensitive topic and itÂ’s nice to read our community treating it accordingly.

  21. Any point of serious debate should center around whether or not the burden of potential morning sickness, stretch marks and physical discomfort are enough to overshadow any input a man might want to have over the destiny of his dna contribution.

    Honestly I wouldnÂ’t even consider something as trivial as stretch marks or morning sickness as a decision in wanting to have an abortion and neither has anyone I know who’s had it and I hope neither do you to bring it up as a comparison factor. There are far greater consequences of bringing an unwanted child into this world that need to be taken into account that outweight a woman’s fear of actually physically going thru it.

    Ideally, if a man wants to have his child, there would be laws in place for the mother to be compensated for her loss of comfort while he lays claim to full responsibility for raising the child. But alas, that is not the world we live in.

    IÂ’m not convinced that itÂ’s a world we should live in. Any way you word it it comes down to forcing a woman to have a child she doesnÂ’t want to have and I donÂ’t see anything positive coming out of that.

    What we die hard feminists don’t want to admit, however much we realize it is that regardless of which “choice” you pursue, with unplanned pregnancy, the woman loses out everytime. She’ll be the one checking the “abortion” box on her medical history everytime she sees a new doctor, not the man.

    In the grand scheme of things to me thatÂ’s a far lesser evil and a far lesser burden to bear than bringing an unwanted child into this world. Not disregarding the fact a woman goes thru a lot emotionally stress but at the end of the day it should be her choice to do so and that to me is more important.

  22. so many mixed feeling here.

    I’ve been through both things you speak about ANNA. The suicide attempt and the abortion. In that order, years apart. The only reason the abortion didn’t lead to suicide was because my friends had me on watch 24 hours a day for weeks afterwords. If someone wasn’t with me (rarely) then someone else called. It was the worst time of my life, and I can honestly say that it was not an easy decision made casually by some floozy who couldn’t be bothered with birthcontrol.

    Quite the opposite. Though unplanned, I really wanted the baby, and during previous discussion with the sperm donor involved, we had decided we would keep the child in this kind of event, and just get married sooner than planned. But things didn’t work out that way. The consequenses and baggage of having the child, whether I was going to keep or give him/her for adoption were too high. Mostly, I was an emotional wreck before/when I found out I was pregnant because my wonderful then-boyfriend had proposed, broken up with me and then come back, only to hang up on me when I told him I was pregnant and ignore my attempts to reach him after that.

    And the worst thing was that I really just wanted to crawl into my mom and dad’s arms and I couldn’t. Not about my break-up, not about the abortion, not about the fact that I dreaded waking up every day for months and thought about various ways to end it almost every waking moment, and most of my fitful sleepy moments as well.

    And that’s it, right? We can’t talk about this stuff to the people who we love and cherish. Not about depression, not about sex or sexuality, not about anything that would bring shame upon our precious families. Can’t talk about periods and tampons, and discharges and UTIs with our own partners. Can’t generally own up to our own behavior and get tested on a regular basis. Can’t buy condoms, advocate for safe sex, or good sex for that matter, can’t say NO to our boyfriends/husbunds/friends.

    Forgive me my rambling. It’s hard to think or type through the tears. Hard to relive something that so touched my life and Gigi’s.

    And through the pain and turmoil I still assert fully that it was the right choice, the better choice, the smart one. The only smart decision that I made in that horrible relationship. And that is why I remain pro-choice because I didn’t really have much of one.

  23. Like I said JOAT, I hear you. I guess I just don’t understand what the “far greater consequences of bringing an unwanted child into this world” are provided the child is placed for adoption when there are tons of people waiting to adopt babies. I obviously have a radically different view.

    I don’t want to belabor the issue. Right or wrong, the women making these choices are our mothers, our sisters, our friends–us.

    May we make choices based in courage and not fear.