When I think of where home is, it’s Ambal Trading, 591 Parliament St., Toronto The uncle at the front counter never looks at me like I’m a slut.
I’m not his daughter, but I am family
There’s a Tamil girl with blond streaks digging in the fridge for curry leaf who smiles at me
Every time I’m in the rice aisle I stop because I wanna take home a 25 pound bag of red rice big enough to hug but my suitcase is already full of 25 pounds of skirts, pills, Epsom salts, backup shoes and sacred rocks so I settle for two small bags of rice, plus the best tea they have, a bag of jaggery, a jar of Maldive fish: we have practice packing home into suitcases and I am no exception
When I was a kid, home came in the round container of Larich’s Jaffna Curry my appamma would mail my dad from Melbourne. My mother always warned me it was too hot for me to eat my father didn’t know how to cook so it stayed on its shelf but I would look at it with longing sneak it out and sniff late at night.
It smelled like the rooms of a home I’d never seen yet was waiting for me
These four blocks are history.
The first place Sri Lankans came after the war they called the St. Jamestown projects Sanjaytown because there were so many Lankans.
The Tamil Workers Centre fire-bombed by the other Tamil centre because they were gay.
This is where that one bar is where all the uncles go to get their dicks sucked, this is the field where Tamil Somali Jamaican soccer happens every summer weekend
This is home. One block. One store. A sack of red rice. A glance. A shipped spice.
Home is a small house.