Thank you, Roshni Rustomji, for being my mentor, friend, heart-sister.
I met Roshni when I started my MA Interdisciplinary Studies program at the university. I was nervous about being a re-entry student, feeling unsure about my abilities; lacking confidence in my writing.
On our first meeting, she asked me about my writing and I said that I have dabbled here and there in journalistic writing. Her first homework for me: Bring a portfolio of your writing.
I was a correspondent for Philippine News at that time so I had a few published articles. I also included published articles from the Philippines and my written papers from my English classes at the Junior College and theology classes at New College. She said she was impressed and then chided me for being timid and shy about my writing.
For three years, she guided my MA studies and encouraged my writing. She believed that I had something important to say. It was so important for me to hear this and I have quoted Roshni many times in my writing since then.
Roshni retired after I finished my MA but we had become friends and so continued to work together. She went to Stanford's Center for Latin Studies and taught at New College and in both places, she always included me whenever there was an opportunity. At New College, I lectured in her classes often. And at SSU, she came and lectured in my classes.
We also eventually collaborated on the first anthology about Asians in the Americas. She introduced my writing to other scholars and I got published here and here and elsewhere.
When her novel, The Braided Tongue, was released, I was introduced to the world of Remedios Varo. Roshni gave me her only copy of her book.
Roshni would give me all kinds of gifts over the years: from Oaxacan shawls, to ethnic jewelry, visits and luncheons, books, tapestries. She also gave me pieces of art works by Amy Ling and a famous Mexican artist, and other Oaxacan arts. When she tells me the the titles of books she is reading, I perk my ears for leads to another way of thinking, for another way of asking questions.
At today's luncheon, as we celebrated her 72nd birthday, and revisited her years at SSU, I felt so blessed to have her in my life. I don't know if my journey would have been as fecund as it has been if she hadn't pushed me to keep going, to keep asking questions.
Roshni is fearless, courageous, compassionate, a luminous soul, best storyteller. She is light and joyful.
What a blessing to have been on this journey with her.
Thank you, Roshni. Love to You.