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By Rakesh Satyal

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Meet Kiran Sharma: lover of tune, dance, and all issues sensual; son of immigrants, social outcast, religious seeker. A boy who doesn't fairly comprehend his lot—until he realizes he's a god...

As an simply son, Kiran has obligations—to excel in his reports, to honor the deities, to discover a pleasant Indian woman, and, especially, to make his parents proud—standard stuff for a boy of his historical past. If merely Kiran had whatever in universal with the opposite Indian young ones along with the colour of his epidermis. They reject him at each flip, and his cretinous public schoolmates are not any higher. Cincinnati within the early Nineteen Nineties isn’t precisely a hotbed of cultural variety, and Kiran’s not-so-well-kept secrets and techniques don’t endear him to any team. twiddling with dolls, identifying ballet over basketball, taking the once a year expertise convey manner too heavily. . .the very issues that make Kiran who he's additionally make him the big name of his personal own freak express. . .

Surrounded through examples of upstanding Indian Americans—in his own residence, in his temple, on the weekly events given through his parents’ friends—Kiran however unearths it very unlikely to get the knack of “normalcy.” after which one fateful day, a revelation: probably his wants aren’t too earthly, yet too divine. possibly the answer to the secret of his lifestyles has been ahead of him due to the fact delivery. For Kiran Sharma, a protracted, unusual journey is set to begin—a trip so chic, so ridiculous, so painfully attractive, that it may well simply bring about the reality. . .

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I come close to laughing—or, I think about what I would look like laughing at him, for I would never have the courage to laugh openly in front of my father. Still, a wave of sadness rushes through me. I am smart enough to realize that this laughter, this perception of his ridiculousness, must be exactly what my father feels every time he looks at me and gives me That Stare—the one that makes me think, immediately, I am wrong. There is something wrong with me. Just thinking of That Stare makes anything magical that has happened to me in these past several minutes vanish, and the wound from the playground seems to throb again.

The bounty is easily visible under the desk, but it could be mistaken for a stack of comic books or baseball card catalogs. When we get to Cody’s room— me batting away the spaghetti western–style cigarette smoke around us—Cody closes the door, his back extra-hunched with secrecy. He tiptoes over to the stack, his stance becoming more of a wobble, for obvious genital-augmenting reasons. He slides the entire stack out. Not a speck of dust covers the top of it, which makes me immediately aware of just how often Cody looks at smut.

A wave of guilt flows through me as I begin to space out again, and in that moment I feel even more Catholic than an altar boy. Soon it is time for aarti, which marks the end of temple. Everyone stands up, eager to sing “Om Jai Jagdish Hare”—that is, to stretch their legs. It is time for us all to walk to the altar, take one of the small gold trays that bear candles, and move it in a circle a few times before dropping a dollar bill onto the tray in a dual offering—one to lotus-borne Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, the other to the bevy of plump women who cook the after-temple prasad, an assortment of marzipan treats, sweet rice, and oil-glistening puri.

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