I first met Gia, a young schoolgirl, one afternoon while walking with Moy Moy, our twenty-one-year-old daughter who has special needs. Gia was on her way home from classes. She approached us full of questions about why Moy was in a stroller, why she drooled, why she couldn’t speak, where she went to school, what she learned there, and what was the point if she couldn’t talk. Gia’s questions were rapid-fire, as if she couldn’t keep up with her own mind. Sometimes questions like that bother me, but not Gia’s. Her curiosity was genuine and respectful. She wasn’t asking idly or without acknowledging Moy Moy’s presence.
A few days later, my sister was visiting from the United States, and she, Moy, and I went for a walk. We ran into Gia who tagged along with us, questioning nonstop (in Hindi, of course): Where were we going? How were we related? Why was our skin so pale? Who was older? When her route veered off, she parted reluctantly, saving her last goodbye for Moy Moy. Then she scampered down the road, her huge book bag bouncing as she ran.
“She’s exactly like Jill Wheelock,” my sister remarked, even though she hadn’t understood a word of Gia’s Hindi. Jill was a childhood friend and a legend in our neighborhood for her free-spirited outspokenness and talent for mischief. We all adored her, admired her, and wished we could be like her.
A few days later, I saw Gia walking by our house. When I called out from the kitchen window, she stopped and said, eyes...