George by Riti Sachdeva
In the mid-1980s, when I was in high school, my parents bought a house and moved us to a very white suburb (vws) just outside of Boston.
In the svws, I went to a very white high school (vwhs), where I played the violin in the orchestra. Being a vwhs, every spring, the orchestra took a trip to play a concert in a diﬀerent community. My sophomore year,the orchestra was invited to play at a high school in Montreal.
From the vwhs, we were three busloads of students, chaperones, and instruments… and three bus drivers. The driver of the bus I rode was named George. He was dreamy with sparkling eyes, mischievous smile, and a super sexy goatee. He was probably in his mid to late twenties, so in my teenage fantasies, he was the “perfect age.”
At fifteen, I was the perfect age for social and physical awkwardness. I had braces, an unruly head of coarse black curly hair, brown skin, big tits, big hips, and a big ass. No matter how hard I tried to have a cool American wardrobe, it just seemed bumbling on my body.
For the entire trip to the Canadian border, the girls on the bus flirted with George. I wouldn’teven make eye contact with him, knowing that trying to be as charming or beautiful as the white girls would just end in my humiliation.
At the U.S.-Canada border, all three buses stopped to go through Canadian immigration. We sat around for a bit before a Canadian immigratio noﬃcer stepped into the bus wanting to know:
Was there anyone who was not a US citizen?
I was the only brown black yellow or red student on all three buses. I don’t recall if the oﬃcer was looking directly at me…I raised my hand and volunteered my immigration status.
He approached me.
Are you a permanent resident? Yes.
Do you have your green card with you? No.
Come with me.
As I walked on the bus, terrified, I made eye contact with George for the first time. He held my gaze, unwavering.
Three busloads of impatient vwhs students watched me and the Canadian immigration authorities enter a building where I was interrogated for an hour.
Why didn’t you bring your green card? I didn’t know. No one told me to.
Country of origin? India.
When did you come? 1975…?
Who did you come with? My parents.
Where have you lived? Parents names? Occupations? Mother's maiden name?
They checked through records on what was a computer back in the mid-1980s. My green card number, my mother's green card number, my father’s greenc ard number, my parents' employers, other relatives in the U.S.
When, finally, they were satisfied that I was not a Sikh terrorist nor would I try to defect, they approved my entry into Canada.
I walked back to the bus wearing the stunned humiliation of being an Other:
a registered alien, immigrant, brown teenager amongst three entire busloads of white people, except for the three Black men driving the three buses.
I stepped back into the bus and felt the hostile silence and impatient stares from the very white high school students.
I looked at George, big tears thrusting their way to the surface of my eyeholes. He welcomed me with his shining eyes and uttered the one thing that could revolutionize the indignity of the moment. He spoke a spell I carry, still, in the lining of my super hero magic…George grinned wide,
"It takes a special lady to hold up three buses.”
**Special thanks to Ricardo Arechiga for his graphic design of the project logo**