“I am a picky girl. I’m too picky to pick.”
If you find yourself at the supermarket on 43rd Avenue on a gloomy day, with a little bit of luck you might find Ormi cheerfully working the cash register and inquiring about your well-being.
I complained about being tired one recent morning as she rang up the vegetables for my two pet rabbits (who refuse to eat lettuce from any other supermarket in Sunnyside).
“Maybe you just need to do something. Sometimes tiredness goes away once you start moving…”
I felt much better after taking Ormi’s advice and decided to meet with her at Café Aubergine after her evening shift.
A challenge at first, the cashier’s job with its constantly changing prices and codes, its idle times and meager wage—in three years Ormi has worked her way up from $7.25 to $7.75 an hour —is only a temporary solution for her. She has always enjoyed taking care of her younger cousins and nephews and wants to turn her compassion for children into a profession. Hoping to become a social worker one day, she currently studies Human Services at LaGuardia Community College.
Ormi moved to Sunnyside from Bangladesh six years ago. She says that among five siblings she is the shiest and quietest and had the most difficult time adapting to the new culture. She couldn’t speak any English and the first weeks she could barely eat; even the water tasted differently.
While her mom tried to find the unique South Asian vegetables the family was accustomed to, the dishes didn’t taste nearly as fresh as they did in her home country. Worse yet, Ormi couldn’t find any of her favorite fruits—Kathal, Lukluki and Bubi—and she missed the elaborate wedding ceremonies where the women would prepare sweets from these fruits and bring them to the bride’s house.
At age 20, Ormi is still very close to her mom and wants to stay with her until she gets married. But she thinks it will take some years to find a “good-hearted, good-looking, funny and educated gentleman.” She is not interested in an arranged marriage as is still the custom for many young people in Bangladesh.
“What if the guy is the opposite of me? No ‘yes’ to a stranger!” She says, sipping her Coca-Cola at Café Aubergine. “I am a picky girl. I’m too picky to pick.”
But between school, work and the usual hobbies (TV, music, reading the Twilight series), there is little time to think about dating. Besides, before Ormi picks the right guy, she still has to work on her shyness, she says. And with an admirable dollop of self-confidence she adds, “There is no problem with me. Either way, I will be fine.”
* Name has been changed upon request.
Listen to Ormi’s interview