I REMEMBER CLIMBING A TREE ON A SUN-DAPPLED AFTERNOON YEARS AGO; at 5 years old, I was an incredibly adventurous little girl who loved nothing more than to explore like the characters in my favorite books. The branch under my foot cracked as I reached for one above me, and I felt myself falling briefly before strong arms plucked me out of the air. I twisted around to look into my grandfather’s familiar face, and his wide smile. “You got me, thatha.”

He set me down on terra firma and I waltzed away. “I got you, kid,” I heard him say.

I already knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that we were poor. We weren’t desperate, but we were certainly nowhere as wealthy as we used to be. My sister and I lived with my mum and her parents in India, where my grandfather sold the produce from his ancestral farm. There were coconut groves and fruit trees, and my grandmother sold milk from her cows, scrimping and saving whatever she could. My mother had a small shop selling clothes—my childhood was not painful, nor was it filled with intense poverty.

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