my prayer

San Ramon, California

San Ramon, California, where I work

Sitting in my darkened apartment, listening to the hum of traffic on University Avenue. It’s Saturday evening and my weekend has (finally) officially started. I’ve had thoughts all week about what to write right here. And yet, now, when I finally have the time . . .

the words,

the topics,

seem . . .


Like me.

This past week, I met a new student at work. His name is Kaustubh, and his family moved to California from India this past year. Kaustubh is a quiet boy, and eager to please, but it wasn’t until I read his self-introduction (hand-written in perfect cursive) that I fell in love with him.

My name is *Kaustubh. I am 11 years old. I will go to 6th grade. I am born in India. All my family members are living in India. I am the eldest child in my family. I like to read books, especially non-fictional ones. I like to swim and skate. I like to play with Legos. I like to learn new things. I have very few friends. I like to eat pasta and french fries. I don’t like to fight . . . I thank my parents, my teachers, and my elders who taught me good things and made my life easier.

I like to read books, especially non-fictional ones. I like to swim and skate. I like to play with Legos . . . I have very few friends . . . I like to eat pasta and french fries.

To look at him, Kaustubh seems . . . different. In his button-up shirt and pressed blue jeans (smelling of curry and spices), with his jet-black eyes and neatly-combed hair, with his thick Indian accent and shy demeanor, it’s easy to tell: he’s not from around here. But there’s an excitement in his eyes, a glitter I can see. Different or not, Kaustubh is yet a boy. He’s a boy just like any boy who likes Legos and pasta and swimming and french fries. And Kaustubh is hopeful. America was once a foreign land of dreams — and now? It’s his home.

And I pray. Deep inside, as I hear his chatter and watch him shedding his shell, “The teacher’s are nicer — they don’t yell at you! The weather is better. The food is good . . .” I pray. Please, God. Please. Protect Kaustubh. Don’t let life take the wind out of him . . . Please.

‘Cause some days it sure does take the wind out of me.


* name changed


Note: I started this post two? three? weeks ago? I am just now publishing it . . . Currently in Northern California a terrible blaze is threatening to destroy the forests I grew up in. Since it started a week ago (by arson?), the King Fire has consumed more than 81,000 acres and destroyed several homes. Some of my friends have had to evacuate their homes and are waiting with baited breath, hoping to return. My heart is aching. A follow-up post to come soon.


17 thoughts

  1. This in a strange way reminds me of my past and surfing.

    Eons ago, the contests were far different. You were scored 4 waves in a short time and length of ride was a part of the criteria. So you had to play it safe. Ride far and not take many chances.

    That was not me. I wanted to go with the meter pegged at ten from start to finish. Finally, I got tired of losing. So I dulled it down and just worked on having great form.

    What do you know…Now they made the criteria for your 2 best waves and forget the length of the ride; they want risk!

    To this day I still feel I am holding back.

    We are born to dream and have wonder and do things differently but adult life makes us play it safe. So I can see where you are coming from. The ones who never lose that sense go on to do big things and create new methods.

    I hope you are doing well. Be safe!

  2. Sounds like a very charming student right there, very humble and appreciative of the people around him. I think he will be alright, sounds like someone who will always look back at their roots. Kids always have a lot of enthusiasm and courage, and at their age anything is possible. I reckon we can learn from them all the time,

    Sorry to hear about the blaze, Jess. I hope your friends are okay. You take care, it sounds like you’ve been busy and occupied. Hope life’s treating you well :)

    p/s: It’s great seeing a post from you again. Love reading what you write ^^’

  3. I’ll add my prayer to yours today. I hope this child’s transition to being a young adult is an easy dnd interesting one. I hope they can contain these fires and that the people can return safely to their homes.

  4. My hope is Kaustubh finds this new home, his new (temporary?) home to be warm, welcoming, and pleasantly memorable. Very glad he met you Jess! That was one wonderful person he deserved to meet. ;)

  5. Great post… Indeed children have a passion and zest for life when they are young, but sometimes as we age we get jaded and lose that zest. You captures it well here.

    Hope you are well Jess! Hope the fires die down and that you and your friends are safe.

    • Thank you so much. Hoping to write another post about the fire soon. It really is interesting to work with kids and hear things from their perspective and about their experiences.

      Thank you for your continued friendship and for reading!!

  6. Wonderful introduction to a great kid it seems.

    My heart goes out to you Jess. Your friends, and also everyone involved in any way related to the fires. So sickeningly sad.

    Be safe and well my friend.

      • Niiice. I hope he does well. You probably heard, the Iron Man Tahoe was cancelled due to HORRIBLE air quality and visibility. So very sad. Be well and be safe Jess.

  7. Thinking about a future of a child, and taking it like you have says much about the person you are, special and deserving of the best. Take care Jess ~ continue this great journey of yours :-)

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