Of All The Flavors — You Want Vanilla?

Marriage with a Spouse Who Grew Up Without Options

A.J. Bryant


Four metal buckets of ice cream in a freezer; viewed from above. Three are three types of chocolate and the other is pinkish red with dark berries
Photo by Maria Orlova

Heavenly. Peanut butter chocolate cookie, chocolate with chocolate chunks and caramel swirls, white chocolate pretzels, mint brownie. Those were just some of the flavors on offer. I ordered three scoops so that I could have my three choices.

I returned to the car, where my wife Sasmita was waiting with our two kids. I asked her, what do you want? ‘I just want vanilla,’ she said.

‘Wait! What?!’ I said. ‘There are three dozen flavors inside to choose from, plus other loads of toppings, and your choice is plain vanilla with nothing on it. Not even chocolate sauce or sprinkles?’

Sasmita smiled, ‘Nah, get me plain vanilla in a cup, please. We’ll be waiting for you here.’

After ten years, her answer should not have surprised me, but I was caught off guard.

Sasmita grew up desperately poor, in an Indian village, high in the mountains. It takes three to six hours, depending on the season to get to the nearest ‘city.’

She was raised without choices. I was raised with so many it’s paralyzing.

The toothbrush decision



A.J. Bryant

Adopted from Kerala. I write about adoption, my intercultural marriage, contemporary India and more. Prawns are my love language.