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i am standing in a room- a classroom- in canada- in front of 20 strangers- 6th graders- their eyes locked on me- oiled long braids- a sequinned orange sweater- green pants with embroidered pockets- my eyes- locked on my pink sandals- teacher- “tell us your name”- i am shaking- i am scared- i open my mouth to reply- a word escapes my mouth- “Aman”- a laugh — my eyes are watery- i try to hold what had escaped- disappeared into thin air- my name- one word- thick accent- i faint

i am lying on a surface- cold- raised- smell of disinfectant- lingers in the room- a woman is standing outside- looking at me- i am uncomfortable- “How are you feeling?”- i am scared- i am an alien- but she cannot hear me- “You ok?”- i nod

i am sitting on a black bench- alone- in the gymnasium- buzzing with voices- i am holding onto my black lunch bag- i can feel the pinning glares- i can feel my eyes moistening- my bones shaking- i take out my thermos- warmth- a swirl of steam escapes — wrapping me in the blanket — taking me back- safe- familiar- where i am- comfortable- accepted- home.