A memoir  
“I Did It on Purpose” 

All kids are prone to what we can call the “over dramatic syndrome”. Whether it is the death of your pet ladybug or a scrape on the knee, the sky seems to be falling on your head and the seas turning into lava. To their vast imaginations and fast-moving brains, their minute years of life experience stand no chance. The smallest drop of water can become all the oceans, rivers, and lakes combined. I was no exception to this narrative. In fact, I lost a pet ladybug as well and would scrape my knees quite often. Sure enough, for each time something like this happened, I would overreact just as any other kid. One kid is dramatic enough but two kids in the same situation brings about the most memorable events that stick with an individual for a lifetime. This one stuck with me.

Before we jump into the story, let’s start at the beginning. I was born in Nepal. The first couple years of my life were spent there until the age of six when I moved to the United States. I remember the excitement that I felt in the days leading up to the move. People would tell me that I’d be able to see the celebrities from all my favorite shows casually strolling around my neighborhood. My uncle convinced me that the trees were made out of money and that you could just pluck and harvest bills. In all that excitement, I got asked a question which made me pause for a couple of seconds.
“You know in America you have to speak English, right?” My aunt’s husband said, “What are you going to do if you don’t know how to say something, or you don’t understand what someone is saying?”
I paused to think about this language barrier which had not previously crossed my mind. After a couple seconds of deliberation, I concluded. 
“That’s easy! If I don’t know how to say something or don’t understand, I will tell the person ‘wait’, then go to my dad and ask him what it means and how to say stuff.” I stated in full confidence. The rooms filled up with joyous laughter at my innocent answer to this question which would later go on to prove its importance. 

I had just started second grade when I moved to the United States. Second grade was a little difficult due to my lack of skill in English but, because of my young age, I caught on quite quickly. By the beginning of third grade, I had almost become fluent. Almost. I made two very good friends—Mira and Desiree—whom I still consider as some of my best friends today. Although I was new and shy, they befriended me and helped me adjust to this new life in a new land. For the most part it was all sunshine and rainbows, but for those times when kids did what kids do and got over dramatic, the skies became dark and stormy. 
Water on her lunch bag and a frantic Eliza is what Mira saw. It was clear what happened. Obviously, Eliza purposely spilled water on the lunch bag. Without second guessing that initial thought, Mira furiously marched over to the lunch table and pointed at her bag.
“You did this on purpose.”

Because I was so shocked by what happened, I didn’t quite comprehend what Mira was saying. I got up and started running to the bathroom to grab some napkins. Mira followed. As we were making our way to the bathroom, still furious, Mira asked, “What happened?” 
“I’m so sorry, I did it on purpose.” I explained.
Now, to Mira, the facts were too clear. She saw that I was the only one around the lunch bag so I must have done it, and on purpose too. It was quite certain that I was a horrible person to spill water on her lunch bag.
“I can’t believe you did this on purpose!” She exclaimed, now with anger growing in her voice, “Why did you do this Eliza?”

“I’m sorry! I don’t know, it happened on purpose, I promise.”
“I know it was on purpose, but WHY?” 
I looked at her, stunned. Why is she getting so angry?  
“I don’t know why you are getting so mad at me…” I mumbled with a hint of defeat in my tone.
She then suddenly looked and me, realization in her eyes. “On purpose means that you meant to do it.”
Immediately I knew why she was so mad the whole time. “No, no. I didn’t mean to do it.”

“So… you did it on accident.” Mira stated, understanding the situation now. It seemed that because of the atmosphere of the situation, I had mixed up the word’s “purpose” and “accident”. 

In this case, I was not able to just go to my dad and ask him how to say something. Because of this misunderstanding, I almost lost one of my best friends. My reaction caused by my lack of knowledge in the English language made the argument worse. Mira became convinced that I was plotting against her for god knows what reason. 

Kids are dramatic by nature; however, human drama is inevitable with older people as well. This experience helped me understand that people may not fully understand the other's perspective unless they have patience. I did not understand Mira’s reaction until I found out that I was simply reversing the meaning of two words.

 In this interconnected world we now, more than ever, need to showcase understanding with one another. Although it may seem that one is completely right, they still do not have the perspective of the other. To resolve issues which involve multiple parties, instead of constant accusation, such as what we see happening daily in our government on the news, we need patience. We need understanding between two sides rather than both simply arguing their cause. 


  1. Eliza Paneru
    Eliza Paneru
    UC Santa Criz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
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Eliza Paneru was immigrated to United States in 2006 when she was 6 years old child. Due to her hard work and dedication,  she was soon enlisted as GATE (Gifted and Talented) student in California. She was the president of  Asian Club while she was in Berkeley High School. Currently,  she is a student in University of California, Santa Cruz, California. This memoir of her reveals a child psychology amid language,  cultural and identity crisis.


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