My Environment

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

I had the spent majority of my days here, spending my time exploring the nooks and crannies when my parents were at work and looking for the ancient photos and relics dating back in my family’s history. Whether I was on vacation or living in India, I always made sure to come back to this often, exploring the history that we had not been able to take to America, but were able to keep alive in my grandparents’ house. It was my home away from home. It opened up my curiosity and made it persistent, as I explored the generations that made up the house, hidden from my eyesight. The little trinkets I would find in the cabinets, and the smells and sounds of the old house creaking encapsulated my love for mysteries and my will to keep searching for answers.

One of these hot summer days, I had found a mysterious brown box under my cousin’s bed. What was my cousin hiding? She had gone out to get us some coconut during a massive heat wave in India, and I couldn’t help but explore the house trying to find something to do while she was out. The box was covered in dust and scraped the floor as I pulled it into the broad light, waiting to examine its contents. My little fingers trembled in anticipation as I opened the box. I jumped back, stumbled, and hit my head on the couch as my eyes widened in bewilderment. I walked back to the box, checking again to see if what I had seen was real. It was, and I pulled it out, feeling the hard material and turning it around in my hands. It was a human skull. I peeped through the eye sockets, tried to pry open the jaw and even stuck my fingers up the nose to see how big the holes were.

But the skull wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye. As I put the skull aside, I saw other white structures, piled in the box, waiting to be exposed to the sunlight. As I pulled each one out, I gave them my own nicknames, creating a little mind catalog, so I could ask my cousin about them as soon as she came home.

When she arrived, my cousin became confused as I excitedly told her about the white ‘hard like things,’ pulling her towards the box. She then told me that as a student in medical school, they gave her this box so she could easily study about humans and their bodily functions. Every time I stayed at her house, alongside my general exploration of the musty cabinets, I played with those bones, trying to arrange them in the correct structure and asking my cousin if it was correct or not. If I was incorrect I kept trying, referring to the basic anatomy book she had bought me as my interest in bones piqued. It was my puzzle. A puzzle that had the tiniest of details that my eyes couldn’t see; a puzzle that contained a story within it pieces, waiting to be revealed. It was a puzzle that I could bring to life. I could create a backstory, a family for this box of bones. I could give the bones a gender and make the bones into a person that had lived and breathed the air that I was breathing now, like I imagined with the people living in the house before me. More importantly, it elevated my interest in the medical field, starting from a young age.

Every event and every item in this house shaped my persistent curiosity. It influenced me to think of multiple solutions, conjure up mysteries and constantly poke at the smallest of details. It was my haven, and it helped me develop the aptitude – and the everyday inspiration – to solve problems creatively, independently, wonderingly.

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