Love Poems for the Border Patrol

Amitava Kumar in The New Yorker:

Kumar-Love-Poems-for-the-Border-PatrolI am trying now to remember when it was that I stopped thinking of myself as a new immigrant.

Was it after three years? Five? Fifteen?

I have a narrative in my mind that is teleological—I think the word for this, from my graduate-student days, is “Hegelian”—and it culminates in my becoming a writer. A writer of immigritude. I cannot put a date to it, but I suspect that the rawness of always feeling out of place, of not belonging—that fighting sense I had of forever being on edge—diminished or even disappeared once I reached the understanding that I no longer had a home to which I could return. This went hand in hand (and this is part of the Hegelian schema I’m inhabiting here) with my finding a home in literature.

I arrived in the U.S., for graduate study, in literature, in the fall of 1986. I was twenty-three. After a year, I began to paint, even though I had come to the U.S. intending to become a writer. I painted small canvases, abstract forms that sometimes had words, often in Hindi, written on them. Why did this happen? Maybe because one day, in the college bookstore, I had seen a coffee-table book that had the word “India” printed on it in large letters.

More here.