Letter From The Editor: In Another World

I’ve been looking for another world myself for a long time. One where my norm is the norm, where my concerns are the main concerns, where I am the person meant to be there. On one level, I mean this in the smallest personal ways. I still remember sitting on my back porch on a hot desert evening with a girl I had a crush on, and the thrill I got when we both took off our glasses to describe to each other, in great detail, the soft, distorted orbs of light we saw pulsing in my backyard with our uncorrected vision.

I got glasses when I was four and was insulted at the suggestion that there was anything “incorrect” about the way that I saw. To this day, I can turn any overly sharp moment into a gestural, impressionist scene in an instant. “Don’t you think it’s much better this way?” this girl asked me that night. “When you’re not just seeing for utility?” Which, if you know anything about me, entirely undid my heart.

But I’m also talking about a world beyond me. In second grade, I remember getting the assignment to interview my grandparents about how they participated in WWII, and being shocked at how eager my grandma was to talk about getting interned. She was overjoyed to share the details of the way the desert dust choked her, and how cold it was at night, how rough the wood in outhouse was on her bare ass.

Because nobody asked her anymore. And these were the things she would never forget, that she needed us to remember. There was a story about triumph too: about how she, the farm girl, got into graduate school for social work while she was in a camp, and told off whatever FBI agent was sent to interrogate her to determine if she was an enemy of the state. “Grandma is so stubborn, not even the FBI can tell her what to do,” my mom used to complain.

My grandma went to graduate school, that wasn’t really up for debate. But she was absolutely an enemy of the state, not officially, let’s say spiritually. This inspires me now. But I distinctly recall how unready I was at eight-years-old to accept that this country, my sense of home, could turn on you so quickly. It was incredibly slippery. Our lives didn’t belong to us, the world wasn’t made for us. We were never meant to be here. We were just visitors, some of us, some of the time.

Later, I’d share this with a woman whose grandmother loved to talk about the Holocaust, and we’d fall in love over the shared sentiment that people had been trying to prevent us from existing for generations, and here we were anyway: really cute, smart, queer, hilarious fuck yous, living our lives and eating organic vegetables.

ADVERTISEMENT

If we’re being honest, this describes the majority of people in the world — varying levels of cute, smart, queer, hilarious and organic. But you get my point. You can’t win in a world not meant for you, because even when you succeed, you’re just validating the systems that strip you of power. I think about this every day, and instead of agonizing over my capitalism-grapplism, I’m offering up the In Another World Issue as my attempt at creating some other option, where seeing for utility doesn’t have to be the main deal. We’re presenting you with the ways that bright, thoughtful, ferocious people are creating their own space. Worlds within and outside of this slippery one, full of answers and questions and buoyant hope tunnels.

We have visions of a world that accepts fat bodies as human and healthy, where the MTA is free, where apps do more than just help you get something delivered to your apartment, where we reconsider the value of visibility, where queer people desire far more than acceptance, where we navigate conflict without punishment and where we’re going to continue to love ourselves and others — queerly, madly, deeply — regardless of unwelcome impositions. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I can tell you that all of us fuck yous still here kicking, we’re wily, we all come from the most stubborn grandmothers and we will never stop spinning our visions.🔮

see more of 'in another world'

Kamala Puligandla lives in LA and is the writer of various autobiographical fictions. She is the distinguished recipient of her parents' leftovers and hair compliments from strangers on the street. Her first novel is forthcoming from Not A Cult. Find her work at kamalapuligandla.com.

Kamala has written 45 articles for us.

11 Comments

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!