I took an O'odham language class once during the Spring semester. It was surprising to be out in t-shirt weather again, after a cold (cold for Tucson) winter. I felt naked without my sweatshirt but the air was cool and crisp in the morning with bursts of heat throughout the day. The flowers were in bloom and the birds were out and singing.
It was beautiful in Tucson and I was absolutely miserable.
I had severe allergies. I was walking around campus with a thick wad of kleenex stuffed in my pockets; clean ones in my right pocket, used kleenex in my left. Every few minutes I'd have to honk my nose and shamefacedly avoid eye contact with anyone within range.
After a particularly obnoxious day of coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose in class, I asked the instructor, "How do you say 'allergies' in O'odham?"
She looked me in the eye, something she didn't often do, and said in a challenging tone, "O'odham don't get allergies."
I didn't say a word, being too used to the "half-breed" taunts of the kids from back home for the majority of my life. I sat there fuming for a few minutes, nose on fire, kleenex in hand.
Finally, I blew my nose. I blew my nose and until my classmates stared. I blew until my face passed the color red and changed to maroon. I blew my nose until I could feel the shosha that was wrapped around my brain slowly unwind itself, and thickly coming out, through my nose. I blew my nose until everyone in the room had been convinced: No, she was wrong. Yes. Yes, O'odham DO get allergies.
This post was written as part of the On the Warpath Women's 31-Day Native Women's Writing Challenge
Day 9 Prompt: Write about the Springtime