“Jasmine is known as the Queen of Flowers because of its breathtaking fragrance. It is also called ‘God’s Own Flower’ as no festival is deemed complete without using jasmine flowers. It is a mark of prosperity and good luck. Women adorn their hair with it to bring happiness to their households.”
Being born in kerala and being raised in America you don’t really have a country that you can call ‘home’. Having left india when I was 4 I grew up torn between my parents traditional values and ideology and that of what we call the ‘American dream’. I was either too indian for my American friends or too white for my indian family and friends. At a point in my life I hated and felt disgusted of my heritage and I would avoid going to any party or gathering(esp church) that had Indians. You see, being a female that is obese and not being as “fair-and-lovely” is really looked down upon by my community. I felt unwanted by my own people so I shied away. My malayalam got worst and I lost interest in my culture. I’m not saying America is the best by all means no way, I had my fair share of bullying because of my race and weight, but at lest I was able to carve a place where I felt a bit comfortable and not on my toes. I’m still struggling to find who I am and where my place is. But recently I have this feeling of wanting to find my culture that was lost and rediscover what it means to be a malayali/keralite.
This song is just amazing and depicts how I feel. I want to find a path that will allow me to embrace both sides of me.
Talking to my family about speaking Malayalam is always an emotional topic for me because I don’t understand most of it. Like my own language and I don’t get any of it. It’s frustrating especially when my parents will point out that I’ve heard it my whole life but honestly how often have those words been directed at me? My parents speak to me in English because I understand it. I would say in my family I can communicate the best when it comes to English. And it’s because in my spare time growing up I would search for English language entertainment because Malayalam was too twisted, too difficult, and I felt discouraged and embarrassed when the words sounded like nonsense because I KNEW it wasn’t nonsense. It’s just that to me it was. And that’s a lonely feeling. And it never helped that when I would cry to my parents about how abandoned I felt being left behind in the English speaking world that they would feed me some rice and curry and tell me that I was just hungry. That my empty stomach was making me too emotional. Part of me wonders if because I didn’t understand Malayalam I just got really mad and turned to English as my savior. Because it’s frustrating when I’ll ask my parents to feed me Malayalam words and they tell me that it’s not important enough and to just say them in English. They’re my only resource and when they won’t tell me the words I want to speak I have nowhere else to go. I don’t understand the Malayalam lessons on the Internet and when I see the vast amount of Malayalam that I don’t know I want to break down. It sucks to feel attached to your culture but to feel like a phony. Like you don’t deserve it or you didn’t try hard enough to be Malayalee. And I remember trying to speak Malayalam to my peers when I was younger but it never went well. It was just off-putting or weird or unnecessary to them idk. And being laughed at when you’re younger doesn’t help. And it was family who did that. BUT IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE TO COMPLAIN. I live in a much better situation than my parents had. I’m getting a good education. All of these good things came from being part of the diaspora. But I wish that the consequence of that wasn’t my ties to the homeland. Because do I really have the right to call myself Malayalee? Do I really? I understand the concept of being able to identify yourself as you find truth but do I find truth in calling myself a Malayalee? I don’t think I do. And it RIPS ME APART. My father says that we came to America to be successful. He says my proficiency in English is what’s important. But I wish it wasn’t. I wish that I did not define my success by my English because it came at the expense of my Malayalam. It kills me whenever I think about it. I avoid it as much as possible but today. Had to get it out.