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Please Don't Cry Over Spilled Rice

This poem is about my personal and emotional experiences with cultural alterity while growing up. At times, I found myself not eating my lunch at school in order to feel like I belonged. Essentially, this is my way of responding to my mother's concerns of whether I've eaten yet.

When I was a child, I would often come home with an untouched lunch. My parents never understood why I didn't want to eat Vietnamese food. Especially at school. The food I had within my lunchboxes often consisted of strong smells and tastes, so foreign to the peers around me. I was anxious, I was scared that I would become ostracized for eating something different. Now, I know that Vietnamese food, has an abundance of colour, aroma, and depth. All of these things were definitely, not found in Lunchables.

"I don't think you understand how lucky you are, to have this home-made Vietnamese food prepared for you, each and every day. Children these days just don't know how good they have it." 

This is something my mother would say, after she finds my lunchbox filled with food so spoiled, you couldn't even fathom how long it stayed in the dark. And by in the dark, I mean not telling her my feelings and how embarrassed I always felt at school. Instead, I would simply ask for Lunchables or something more westernized. My parents didn't think what I asked for, could fill my stomach... and they were right. I needed real comfort food.

So now here I am, feeling sorry over the past. I shouldn't have felt embarrassed to eat the food that was made from love. I deprived myself from that. I was hungry.

please don't cry over spilled rice
have you eaten yet?
i cannot seem to show 
how much i love you.
does this rice even belong here?
i don’t want to eat...
something that hurts
my self esteem
spills;
it’s getting more difficult 
to contain myself.
this food doesn't taste good 
anymore.
what you call comfort,
i do not recall having...
in a land full of prairies.
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Please Don't Cry Over Spilled Rice
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