The tale of the colourful Xiao Long Baos

“Take your time and think about all the things you want to be when you grow up. I will ask you again in three weeks. So you have enough time to think over it.”

She looked down at her feet. Somehow, this helped her think faster. She was just in the 10th grade and was often asked this question. She dismissed most of them with humour and a tinge of sarcasm. But this time, it was her dad talking to her. She couldn’t just shrug the question anymore. Now, the pressure was getting to her. What was she to tell him?

She looked down at her feet with greater concentration, straining her face as she did so.

Papa laughed looking at her. “I said you have three weeks. Don’t be a drama queen.”

She smiled back at him, but felt the stress melting away her brain little by little as she did so. She wanted to be many things. A firefighter, a forensic expert, an origami artist… the list just wouldn’t end. But then she thought again, who was she? Today, she was a person with a big heart, filled with compassion and joy. But wanted to use it to her advantage.

Would any of these professions help her continue to be the person she was today? That was the question. She didn’t want to change. She wanted to get better at who she was.

A bamboo steamer of many different Xiao Long Baos presented themselves as she delved into her dilemma. Papa kept his stern gaze fixed upon her as he said, “So, which of these flavours do you want to have?”

“She went straight for the black truffle without answering his question, still muddled in her thoughts.”

“Interesting choice,” said Papa, making peace with her behaviour. “You look pensive. Just relax. I didn’t mean to spoil your mood. We are here at your favourite restaurant. Just enjoy the food now, will you?”

“Papa,” she said and paused thoughtfully. “What if I want to eat all of these flavours? What if I want to be a mix of different people? What if I want to be common enough to be special?”

He was lost. “Beta, these are the questions that take time to answer. Don’t beat yourself over it. We will figure it out soon. You should concentrate on your board exams now and then we will have a chat.”

“I have the answer, papa. I don’t need to think twice.” She picked up the Sichuan bao and relished the burst of soup as it melted in her mouth.

“Let’s hear it then!” He said, his interest piquing with every second.

“I want to be a politician. Will you stand by me?”

He looked at her, stunned.

“I want to use my heart to heal, to infuse growth, to bind the different flavours of India and savour them together. I can’t do with just one. I need them all. Only then, will I feel complete.”

This wasn’t the answer he was looking for. But that’s when he knew—she was made for greatness.

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