Six years ago, I helped four others create this space for us; I am immensely grateful that I was gifted with such an opportunity. It has, without a doubt, changed my life.
When Abhi dreamed up the concept of a group blog for the American children of immigrants from South Asia, there was nothing else quite like Sepia Mutiny, anywhere. We didn’t have a virtual adda to discuss politics, prose or polemic. We were born in this amazing country because of the epic struggles and sacrifices of our courageous parents; yet no matter what we ate, wore, read or said, we were often considered “apart”, not “a part” of our own culture and country.
You younger types have it so much easier than the first wave of post-1965-era babies did. We didn’t have the internet (not until college, and even then, it was IRC and Pine!) and many of us went to schools which didn’t have massive “Indian Associations” or inclusive “South Asian Student” orgs. A non-trivial number of us grew up in homogenous areas, around people who neither knew nor understood anything about what we ate or how we worshipped (and why we weren’t allowed to go to Prom). For every kid who graduated from a diverse place like Mission San Jose, in Fremont, I feel like I’ve met ten who were the only brown kid at their school. That was often a lonely, challenging experience.
Was it the end of the world? No. We survived. Many of us thrived. But many of us also sport faint scars from the digs, disses, and yes, even the depression which was summoned by difference.
Do people who are hyper-recent immigrants to America also feel lonely and face challenges? Yes. But with all due respect, none of this was created for you because we are not you; we could never fully understand or do justice to what it is like to be you. You are welcome here and you are respected here, but please, keep our intentions in mind. Lower your expectations accordingly.
My favorite Sepia Mutiny posts, the moments which I cherish, the conversations that I adore– those occur rarely, and always when we examine our identity, because we are unique, damn it, and we deserve to evaluate and make sense of that. My Mother is fond of saying that her children are the lost ones, and thankfully, we will be the only ones. That by the time we have kids of our own? Those future grandchildren of hers? They will be fine. Grounded. Accepted. Taken for granted. 100% American in a way that was denied to us. Then she grows quiet, doleful.
“I am sorry that my choices meant that you would hurt.” Continue reading