Dear Jamshed, America is not so different from what we thought. I told you I wouldn't see a single cowboy riding across the plain, and I haven't. I have not even seen a plain. Still, there are some silver linings. They are:
Trapper and King, the cat and dog who live in the apartment building. They are cuddly and waggy. I am not allowed to play with them, though, becayse they are supposed to catch mice and keep burglars away.
Ironman. He owns a pig and talks to me a lot. But he is a grown-up.
Kids. I can hear them playing outside. Too bad they do not want to play with me.
I wish you were here. Do you wish I was in India? Write back soon. Your friend, Lowji
I am Lowji Sanjana. I am a kid. I used to live in the country of India, in the big city of Bombay, in an apartment building with my ma and my bape and NO PETS! That was the apartment building's rule: NO PETS!
But not long ago -- just weeks after my ninth birthday -- I learned we were moving...far away...across the ocean...to...
"America!" exclaimed Bape.
"America?" I gasped. I did not believe my ears!
How could I leave my grandmother and my grandfather? How could I leave my aunts and my uncles and my cousins? How could I leave my school and my best friend, Jamshed?
I started to cry.
Bape put his arms around me. "Look for the good in our move, Lowji," he said. "Find the silver lining."
I blew my nose. What silver lining? I could not find any silver lining.
It was my friend Jamshed who found some silver first.
"Lowji," he said. "In America you can finally have a dog! A dog who will sleep on your bed. A dog who will play ball with you."
"Yes," I said, slowly beginning to find some silver too. "And a cat! I can finally have a cat to cuddle with. A cat who will purr when I pet it."
"And," cried Jamshed, clapping his hands in excitement, "a horse!"
I raised my eyebrows. "A horse?"
"Of course," said Jamshed. "In America many people have horses for galloping across open plains and rounding up cows."
"How do you know this?" I asked.
"I saw it at the cinema," answered Jamshed.
"The cinema?" I thought about the American films I had seen lately. "I do not remember seeing any horses...or cattle...or plains."
"Well," admitted Jamshed, "it was an old movie. Really old. In black and white."
"Ah." I nodded. I had never thought of owning a horse before.
Later, when I asked Ma and Bape about having a dog and a cat and maybe even a horse in America, they said, "Najare padvum." That means "We will see" in Gujarati -- the language we sometimes spoke in Bombay when we were not using English. And so I came to America with high hopes of becoming a pet owner.
And oh, how different things are here in America.
One thing, however, has stayed the same. NO PETS are allowed in my new apartment either.
Already I have learned an American expression for how I feel about this: Bummer!
Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; Gabriella’s Song; and When Agnes Caws; all ALA Notable Books. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.