Luma Puma – that’s what the American kids called me. Luma Puma Montezuma. Their ridicule made me wish I had never come to America. It made me hate my name and where I was from. It made me hate everything about myself.
I was born in Baghdad, to a Chaldean Catholic mother and a Syriac Orthodox father, but all my ancestors were born in Mosul and neighboring cities in northern Iraq. For many years, no matter where I was living, I would answer the question “Where are you from?” with “I am from Mosul.” Such is the existential reality of first-generation immigrants: the both/and tension of two civilizations within oneself, the wistful desire for one identity, one culture, one homeland, one whole and integral worldview.
This essay appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Plough Magazine. The digital version can be found here.