I've seen my fair share of demons in this lifetime. I can remember an incident when we were on the Middle East tour…we were in one of the Yemeni villages, having lunch on the floor of an old dilapidated building when one ignorant aunty asked my mother, “So were you born Muslim?”…to which my mother replied, “Yes”. The question was prompted by the mere fact that Mother’s surname is of English origin. I was deeply offended….”what kind of F#cked up question is that?” I wanted to ask her…but I said nothing….Breathe.
Did aunty honestly believe that because she has a surname from the Hindustani capital that she would automatically be classified as Muslim? I never met a single MUSLIM “Patel” out of the thousands I dealt with in all the time I worked for the Camden District Housing Office in London, because Islam’s origins were not in India…meaning that the ancestors from India had to eventually revert to Islam so that their progeny could be Muslim. So to judge a person and their religion by their surname is F#cking ludicrous. This is what happens when you don’t educate your women…they grow up to be ignorant old aunties.
I was raised in a predominantly Muslim Indian society…went to School and Madressa (Islamic classes) with them and even had a few friends. I remember the day one of the girls asked me which Ghaam I belonged to. I must have been about 7 years old at the time…and my response was something like “What’s that? Can I eat it?”
What a can of worms…I still don’t know the difference between the Memons and Kholvads and Alipors etc. etc. And I don’t care.
From my point of view, I’m a Muslim first and foremost and that’s all that matters. I bleed the same colour as everyone else and I feel joy and pain with the same degree of passion, fervor and anguish as everyone else. Theoretically, I’m considered and classified as Indian. But the truth is that I am a thorough-bred mixed breed. If you look at my heritage, you’ll know why:
My Paternal ancestry: My late grandfather was an Imam from the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was an orphan that grew up in the mosque, so no one knows where his parents were from and he spoke 13 languages. He came to SA and married an Indian woman, born in SA with roots in India…only the Lord knows where. And they had my Dad.
Maternal ancestors are much more complicated.
On my late Grandmothers side: My great great grandfather was a white Scottish man living in Ireland. He came to SA and married a Malay/Coloured with some other fruity mixes going on there. They had my great grandmother, who married a Muslim Indian and reverted to Islam. They had my grandma who married a handsome, eccentric Portugese looking player named Cisel Patrick Charles aka “Popeye” as they use to call him. He reverted to Islam too and some years later, my mother was born.
On my late Grandfather’s side there isn’t as much detail…other than his Grandmother was Edith Brown, a French woman and that her daughter also married inter-racially. The rest as they say is history.
So it’s safe to say that I’m not your average girl. I have two very different families. The “Indian” family on my father’s side and the “mixed breeds” on my mother’s side.
When we were much younger (and defenseless) my sisters and I were marginalized and ostracized by everyone because of this. At the time, I was the only one in school with “divorced parents” and I was a nerd so that didn’t help. Regretfully, I spent too much time trying to fit in. It had never occurred to me that I wasn’t Indian enough for these f#ckers because I wasn’t brought up to believe that there was something “wrong” with me. My parents never over-indulged us so we never had the chance to adopt that sense of entitlement that most Indians have. My mother was never the type to wait on us (maybe that’s why we’re not alcoholics, drug addicts or whores – not that every Indian is…but you know what I mean). We were encouraged to think for ourselves, get an education and to live our lives as best we could. We always had to work for what we wanted, I’ve been looking after myself since I was 5 years old.
Back in the day, we also had to endure the family’s shit, but in a more subtle way…with undertones and currents speaking volumes. In my Dad’s family we were outcasts, looked down upon, degraded and not considered to be good enough for the family…we were not Indian enough…unfit and unworthy of anything.
On the flip side, we were too Indian for Mother’s family who were more intimidated by us because they always thought that WE thought, that we were better then them. But this was not the case….the truth was that THEY thought that WE were better then them, so they assumed we thought so too.
These issues use to plague me tremendously in my mis-spent youth. But thankfully, not anymore. If anything, Adulthood has brought clarity, freedom and emancipation from the prejudices, judgments and oppression that society has wreaked upon us for the majority of our lives. I no longer feel constrained and inadequate or compelled to be one or the other, mainly because I don’t give a F#$% what people think or say about me. Those years, reflection and time has allowed me to come into my own, to develop a self-assured persona and a personality that would make Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy envious. It’s liberating. Variety is the spice of life and I have the priviledge of being part of both worlds. I don’t have time for the Indians with the elitist mentality, the Malays and Coloureds with the defeatist approach, the White colonialist supreme-ist ideology or the Black “victimized” mindset. This is Me…I hate everyone equally…and that’s how I roll :D