Date of Award
Master of Arts in Professional Writing (MAPW)
Professor Tony Grooms
Doctor William H. Rice
In the opening scenes of “We Are Also Home,” the novel’s symbolic character Farishtay Mahdi allows a man by the name of Syed Janmohamed into her house. He pays her for sex and counseling. She does not love him. Instead, she loves what he gives her. Syed is not only after Farishtay for sex. He is also driven mad by the commanality found in both Farishtay and his daughter: invisibility. He has heard of Farishtay’s hushed-up condition through the grapevine. His performance, initially informed by societal norms, is almost instantly seen for what it really is by Farishtay. Irony plays a large role in this story, and it is then that it first makes the reader aware of itself. For someone like Farishtay who suffers from invisibility she alone toggles on and off like a television channel she sees others very clearly. She is the only other individual known to Syed to harness invisibility as his daughter does, and he seeks answers from her. While Syed’s decision is logical, it is not the right one, and the reader should infer Syed would be better off looking elsewhere.
In the 2015 New York Times op-ed “The Invisible Asian,” the idea of invisibility is hinted at throughout when it comes to people of Asian heritage. The author contends that for every South Asian man infantilized by their mothers, a South Asian woman is rendered unseen by society at large. A large part of this is due to the harrowing, blanket concept of the model minority. It is a flattering perception, to be lauded by the masses all because an Indian child turned ESPN star walks away a Scripps spelling bee champion every summer and because an Indian adult in a physician’s white coat is about as common as the cold. Yet, flattery cannot and should not be the incentive for South Asian Americans to excel within their livelihoods. Outside of the precocious, border-line vain spelling bee and the typical doctor-lawyer-engineer domains in which well-to-do South Asian Americans dwell is a South Asian America that is largely ignored.
Many South Asian American women have slipped through the fabrics of our societies. In America’s quest to include them, it’s shortened their names, dressed them up in their image, and generally treated them as they would dolls. Yet, their traditions have been snatched from them.
The novel tackles this social injustice head on by inducing not one, but two South Asian women with literal invisibility as a means to comment on the struggles many South Asian women encounter today.
In We Are Also Home, invisibility shows us that despite feeling unseen in society, South Asian women remain home to themselves. If South Asian women can’t find a home in this world, they should be able to find that that homely feeling in their presence. Furthermore, they are also home – meaning they belong here, there, and everywhere just as much as women of any heritage.
 Yancy, George, and David Haekwon Kim. “The Invisible Asian.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Oct. 2015, opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/the-invisible-asian/.