Cultural Tripartite – Angelina Zhou Narayan

By August 11, 2021 August 25th, 2021 2021 runner up

Cultural Tripartite


Lining up for the Japanese curry, I look around
See how I’m shrouded by flowing hanfu, proud patterned layers of the hanbok
Picking out a loose wire from the kameez I bought in a Fijian department store a few years back
The royal blue is restricting, the flash intertwining gold pressing against my chest
The stares are what a hen painted into a peacock gets
The compliments are what you give a pretty ornament from the souvenir store.
I’m often told I don’t look Indian
When I get home, I claw my way out of the gauzy layers
They cling to my skin, then my culture is once again
Folded neat, stashed compact in the same bag the cashier gave me.


Saying grace, anticipating the kai
I look, and the sense of belonging isn’t there
But trays of tuna swim in coconut milk, an entire pig rests upon crumpled foil
Mountains of bread slathered in butter
I gravitate towards the scent of curry, roti
Politely decline the sapasui
I cling to my Chinese mother to fend off the foreign feeling
What’s an Asian woman doing at a Pasifika event?
Then they look to my iTaukei dad, and we’re no longer outsiders.


Stilted greetings, switching tongues
Wishing I could interpret their lilting vowels, the steady-stream-flow of syllables
They switch the setting when their eyes see me, they ask
Do you eat chicken feet?
When I come to dim sum, I don’t order fried rice
That shows how cultured I am
They say I’m pretty for a mixed-blood
Can you speak Mandarin?
Not really, but I can say what fried rice is.


Angelina Zhou Narayan
Year 13
Burnside High School


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