He mailed the paperwork when I was still an orca. The hungry days. Unyielding seasons of screaming water. Mother obsessed over deciphering their sound, preoccupied when kinfolk sank to the rocks. I died in the alien net before we could learn the language, and I became his nephew. My rebirth is at a hospital close to the ocean and close to the post office where he mailed off the forms. My uncle comes in the morning to hold me, dressed in his customary polo and slacks, square glasses with silver frames like beams of a bridge. He built bridges for the state, one in every county. Always building, unable to ignore connections. My uncle lived in the future. Itineraries were his prose. He planned sweet sixteens, sangeets, he edited college essays and filed taxes. He engineered the visa process for relatives and friends and strangers, including my parents. My parents. He didn’t ask if they wanted to come. He learned their names and saw a fate outside of una. They didn’t know english but they could speak two languages already, a third would be an easy extension, especially with a television. I saw him the other day on the train, an orb of buttery light hovering by my seat as we crossed the seabridge over my grave. My uncle lay in bed that last year, watching movies, immobilized by his tired lungs. I gave him the password to my netflix. For his profile, he chose an avatar that looks like a bollywood policeman, aviator sunglasses and a handlebar mustache. He was always clean shaven. When black hairs started to accompany my whiteheads, and some aunty caught me kissing a swim teammate at a matinee, my uncle told me on this land I can choose who I want to be, but once I choose, I must memorize my script.
Parth Shah is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Wyoming. Prior to graduate school, he produced podcasts for NPR. He logs his writing at parth-shah.com