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Cooking Up Happiness This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By Jasmine110510, Torrance, CA

It's New Year's Eve and my dad's entire family has come to visit. The house fills with chatter of an unknown language. I feel alienated when surrounded by these people who are my own blood. I'm different.

My father's friends ask me questions, but I don't understand a word. Most of them speak English but choose not to. All I can offer is a smile to fill the awkwardness. “Punjabi neih bolding,” I overhear my father say. I've heard that so many times that I understand it: She doesn't speak Punjabi. “Ahh,” his friends reply, as if it's some sort of disgrace to be half Indian and not speak their language.

To me, their language sounds like gibberish. Most of the time I feel paranoid, wondering if they're talking about me. I see friends and family look at me for a second then turn away, continuing their conversations.

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