In the late 80s I ran into this brother from India who decided to study at a university in Indiana. I was working on finishing my master's degree in political science and he was beginning one in computer science.
His name was Rajeev and he had an uncanny ability to describe indecision and being caught in-between knowing and not knowing.
We got to talking one day after I offered him a ride to the main campus from the graduate student housing where we lived. I asked him why he decided to study at a school in Indiana.
He glanced up briefly and sighed, then he looked at me and said, "Because Indiana sounds a lot like India."
So that was that. I later found out that his Graduate Record Scores(GRE) were near perfect and that his grades from India could have gained him entry to any of the best Ivy League schools on the east coast.
But he decided on Indiana. "It does not matter where you are when you can get to nowhere from anywhere", he would say.
Rajeev soon found out that nowhere in middle America is somewhere 'non-whites' from anywhere should avoid.
One evening he walked into my apartment and sat down at the table that stood in the middle of my lounge area. He started talking about this and that and then he said, "I have to make a decision".
I asked what was up. He then started to tell me that he was walking back from campus when a car full of white men shouted hurtful obscenities at him.
"I did not take much of it to heart, but I am quite confused because those men told me to go back to my f*cking country and they called me a black bastard and a nigger."
"I have a mother you know", he said. "I have a mother and a father and a sister and you and this is just my skin", he added with heartfelt emotion.
I looked at Rajeev for what must have been too long while I fumbled through my words to console my brother. There were tears in his eyes. One eye seemed to cry for the indignity he suffered, and the other for the dignity he left behind in India.
Instead of muttering meaningless words about stupid white men and racism I asked him about the decision he mentioned.
"I need to decide if I can live here in the US until I finish my degree or leave and rejoin my life in India ... I know I must go ... I am confident and unsure of this."
His words reached into me and brought out a deep appreciation for being caught in-between.
I am at one of those moments, again.
When I close my eyes I can see Rajeev across from me with his thick brow and gentle yet forcefull presence.
I lost Rajeev over the years as our lives moved beyond Indiana. My father tells me that the phone rang here at number 11 in the mid-90s and it was Rajeev calling from New York (perhaps even from New Delhi, I just don't know).
He said he was calling to find out if I had finally made it home or whether I was still thinking about returning.
"I'll call again", he told my father. But he never did say when.
I wish our paths will cross again. Somewhere. Anywhere. Nowhere, or in-between.
I want to tell him that I have worked on measuring the space in-between being confident and unsure over the years since Indiana.
I am confident now, as I was then, that the space is real.
But, I am also even more unsure whether it means anything in the unstable balance that is life.