MAN I AM ALL FOR DESI-INDIAN NISHAN. Like, a lot. I mean, when I first saw that guy, I was like, wow, a canon Indian character! With an Indian name!! And from that moment I knew he would be my favourite (and he was). And like others in the fandom, I was totally annoyed by how people interpret him as black – because um, non-black dark-skinned pocs exist??
And obviously the grandparents-being-immigrants thing just confirmed my headcanon even further and NOW I’M JUST GOING TO RANT ABOUT DESI NISHAN FOR A WHILE.
Nishan feeling pressure to be one of the smart Asians so often portrayed on television, not just because his parents want him to do well – but also because he didn’t want to lose his reputation as the smart guy amongst his non-asian peers.
Nishan casually talking to someone for the first time and using some complicated vocabulary, and that person being all like “your english is really good for a foreigner!” and Nishan nods acknowledging and takes it as a compliment, but later in the day, he thinks about the incident and wonders why he feels like he’s been punched in the stomach.
OK so Nishan is a Sanskrit name meaning that his parent(s) or grandparents speak Sanskrit! Imagine Nishan growing up, bilingual, with Sanskrit as his first language because that’s what’s being spoken around his house, and developing his English at the same time because that’s what being spoken outside. Imagine him mixing up the two languages, switching languages in sentences. Imagine him developing a love for both his languages as he grows up, and imagine him being proud of his bilingually. A young Nishan enjoying the fact that he can speak two languages fluently and with little accent.
Imagine a young Nishan going to school. Imagine him experiencing racism first-hand from his peers and their parents. One day he’s walking home, a car drives by, and the man in it yells at him – “go back to your country!”. He cringes, this is his country. His family has been here for three generations. Imagine him feeling mutters from others immigrants’ accents or their influent English skills. “It’s America,” they say. “We speak English here.”
Imagine a pre-teen Nishan, previously proud of knowing two languages, now ashamed of knowing Sanskrit. The language that was previously so important to him now felt like a burden to bear – because, as the white Americans say – “English is all you need, right?”. And that idea got repeated to a young Nishan so many times that he started to believe it.
That is, until he turned 14 and realised that he didn’t need to let go of an important part of his culture and an important part of his upbringing to live up to a standard of what an American should be. He was American, and he wasn’t going to let a bunch of racists define his nationality. Just because some cynics didn’t have any culture, that didn’t mean they had to insult his.
Imagine a Nishan with pride in his culture and his language, who acknowledges and recognises his heritage. Imagine a Nishan who dresses in traditional clothes for family weddings and a Nishan who switches between English and Sanskrit with his fellow Sanskrit-speaking friends. Imagine a Nishan who celebrates festivals like Diwali with pride and joy with his family.
We need a desi Nishan, with immigrant grandparents from India, fluent in English and Sanskrit. A Nishan who has and is experiencing racism and has the willpower to overcome it. A Nishan proud of his culture and who he is.
That’s why Indian Nishan is so important.