Chapter Two

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Ninety minutes of driving and thirty of my dad’s “please don’t be dead” emergency calls later, we finally made it home to suburban paradise. This sleepy town in Southwestern Ontario was brimming with nostalgia. The shopping mall where I was chaperoned by my parents (forcing me to hide from my friends in the men’s underwear section), the one movie theater I never got to make out at, and the one video store where I’d bump into my dentist, only to discover his love for Alyssa Milano’s straight-to-video collection.

Our childhood home was filled with nostalgia too, most of it involving scolding and the smell of spices. I opened the door with my sister right behind me, and we yelled to whomever that we’d arrived. My gaze fell upon the empty living room, complete with mustard-coloured, floral-printed couches. Not to mention the matching tasseled cushions.

This room seems uglier every time.

Of course the real “living” happened in the family room further ahead. That’s where the big screen television was, and it was also conveniently next to the kitchen. It was from there, in the back of the house, that the smell of chicken curry wafted over.

As I pulled off my boots and took in the aroma, I felt the slightest brush across my calf. It was my black and white cat named Tommy. My sister scooped him up for a shower of her sloppy kisses.

Feline molestation at its worst.

I grabbed him away from her venomous lips and she bounded up the stairs. I quickly planted some more appropriate pecks of my own, but as I set him down I realized I’d been kissing the exact same spots that had been covered with my sister’s lips.

Is that the same as kissing her?

I quietly shuddered.

I continued along the corridor, its walls sparsely covered with professional family photos, which marked my parents’ better days and their offspring’s awkward youth. The closer I got to the family room and the kitchen, the louder and louder the squeaky-voiced singing became.

Here we go.

It was my dad’s favourite channel: All Bollywood, all the time. I could still remember the days when my dad would insist we watch every Bollywood movie ever made. I had tried my very best to develop an interest, but three-hour films complete with cheesy songs and even cheesier fights were simply too much to handle.

“Are you here?” my mother asked from somewhere in the kitchen.

I answered “yes” in the typical robot way as she continued on.

“Bring me all the dishes!”

I quickly turned back to retrieve the crate of dishes which were sitting by the door. When I finally made it to the kitchen, my eyes travelled straight to my father, who was lounging in the nearby family room. He seemed engrossed by the Bollywood singer on the screen, who was skipping around joyously in the fields of wheat. Wearing his typical beige-coloured “dad pajamas,” his socks were on the floor in a pile, and his curly hair looked tattered. It seemed like it was time for him to get another perm, like he’d been doing twice a year since before I was born.

Though my father’s perms were all I’d known of him in person, the black and white pictures on the mantle told a different story. These ancient shots showed my dad and his older brother, right before they came to Canada. In the pictures they were sporting turbans and beards, since proper Sikhs are never even supposed to cut their hair. Then again, it’s not like their beards were hanging right down to their bellies in the photo, like Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings.” That style was left to the orthodox Sikhs, whereas my dad and his brother looked more business-like in this photo, suits and ties complete with freshly-trimmed beards.

Year of the Chick (book 1 in the "Year of the Chick" series)Where stories live. Discover now