Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

When I arrived in Iowa on a late summer night in the mid-nineties, with two suitcases and two hundred dollars in my pocket, I was the first person in my extended family of artisans to set foot on this continent. I had left behind friends and family, along with the leaking roof of my ancestral home and the invisible baggage of caste I had lugged around all my life.

It was a fresh start in a new land with a generous scholarship and work study opportunity at a liberal arts college. I was ecstatic. …

Caste-based discrimination is in news once again in Kathmandu, propelled by the rare courage shown by Rupa Sunar to not quietly accept the fact that an “upper caste” family in Kathmandu refused to rent her rooms just based on her caste. Indeed, Rupa Sunar is not the first person to be refused room rental because of their caste, nor the first person to take legal action against caste-based discrimination in room rental. Karuna Bishwakarma and Deepa Nepali are two other examples of young Dalit women who spoke up and are still fighting for justice.

The difference in this case is…

photo by author

Every year,
monsoon winds arrive, soaking
the dusty, parched valley floor
faraway, hills tumble down to meet the river
outside, the galli becomes a rivulet
inside, the family of three start
their annual rain dance of
carefully choreographed steps
with pots and pans and old paint cans
placing them here, there, everywhere
moving them, again and again
to catch the heavenfall
in drops and drips before
they hit the mud floor, before
the room becomes river
soaking clothes and curtains
and books galore

Next year,
next year will be different
we say,
waiting for a few sheets of corrugated steel
yet another year

(Included in the Bronx Memoir Project Volume V — 2021, published by Bronx Council on the Arts)

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

Rush back from school in the afternoon.
Throw bookbag to a corner. Eat a snack.

Sit cross legged on the floor across from Mother.
Fold old magazines into rectangles, big and small.

Brush over homemade rice glue on the sides. Fold.
Voila! Paper bags to hold sugar, beans, eggs, more.

Stack the bags neatly into piles of ten, twenty, fifty.
Tomorrow, Aji will sell them to local shops, paisas apiece.

Today, take pride in turning waste paper into money.
Open the bookbag and finish homework.

Repeat again tomorrow afternoon.
Never ever speak about it in school.

Now, we have names — recycled, upcycled, green whatnot.
Then, there was just one — survival.

(Included in the Bronx Memoir Project Volume V — 2021, published by Bronx Council on the Arts)

Looking towards south-west of Kathmandu valley

Looking down from the perch in Swayambhu
where tourists jostle with the locals for the view,
you see a multi-headed hydra
sprinting towards layers of
emerald hills guarding Kathmandu valley and the jagged
diamond peaks beyond, gobbling up
gold green fields along the way, guzzling
aquamarine ponds and lakes, spitting out
silver slivers of asphalt that crisscross
rivers’ and rivulets’ natural paths across the valley floor, belching
thick plumes of fumes that hang over the houses
that look like pieces of legos placed haphazardly
by an impatient child.

Musings about hierarchies and power in language

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

In English language, it is easy to address someone — there is only one “you.” Whether it is a boss or a bestie, a grandfather or a niece, someone known for years or a new acquaintance, the term you is used to address the person in front. I like the egalitarianism the term connotes — there is no hierarchy set by age, gender, relationships, caste, class or myriad other categories. You and I have the potential to interact as equals. We do not have to try to determine each others’ position on the totem pole at the first meeting.


Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

“Modernize!” They told us when we were young
Don’t wallow in old wives’ tales, antiquated norms
Don’t use what you have in gardens, in your own homes
“Buy. Buy. Buy.” They said and we all went along

After we lost our elders’ knowledge, our grandparents’ way
They are teaching us the value of sage smudge spray
In branded boxes, they’re selling back to us our own histories
Charcoal powder, turmeric lattes, even squatty potties

Photo by Rohan on Unsplash

I can tell my immigration story two different ways. One, I came here with $200 and two suitcases holding almost all of my worldly possessions. Two, I came here with a full scholarship to a rich liberal arts college. Both are true, and have shaped who I am and the way I view the world. Give or take a few details, my story is not that different from that of other immigrants who came to the U.S. for higher education or white collar jobs since the post-Civil Rights era. …

In the cool morning of November 8, 2016, I stood in line at the Joseph Pulitzer Intermediate School 145 in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York to cast the very first ballot of my life. I carefully filled out the bubbles on the ballot, thinking about my father. It had been exactly twenty-two months since he had passed.

I never got to vote while my father was alive because I was not old enough while living in Nepal, my country of birth, and I did not have U.S. citizenship for the first two decades of living and working here. When I…

Dear Grinnell College,

I write this letter with a heart full of gratitude, sadness, and hope.

Every day, I feel grateful to you for making it possible for a girl who grew up without running water to get a world class education and pursue a life of her dreams. It started with a full scholarship and work study opportunities on campus all four years, along with summer internship grants. Our relationship did not end with my graduation. It actually got stronger. Right after graduation, I received a small post-graduation service award that allowed me to move to Washington, DC. …

Luna Ranjit

organizer at heart. strategy consultant by trade. mostly prose with occasional forays into poetry.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store