I was ashamed of my skin
not knowing this was the fortune I inherited from my ancestors
For I come from fields filled with sugar canes
and the land of five rivers
In slow denial of who I am
I forget that my brown skin is defined by my father’s struggle to raise me in a country
where my melanin is unseen.
But he reminds me everyday
that my brown eyes are the colour of the soil his roots grow from
strong and upright,
like the women of his country
who carried lineages on their backbones
and history in their hips
my curly hair is the crown I carry
for those who lost their privilege
between the borders of two countries
For I come from fields filled with sugar canes
and the land of five rivers
skin so resilient
hair so free
eyes filled with such a deepness
even the galaxies haven’t seen
“Hey look it’s the Persian”
A whole lot of yelling “FUCK” when the Overture played
“PUNJAB ME DADDY”
“I’m gay for Andre”
“I’m kinkshaming all of you”
“Buquet hang in there”
“Guess Erik can cross hanging him off his… Buquet list”
“My daddy-ing gaze”
A whole lot of screaming “FUCK” and “HANDS” during Point of No Return
“This is my sexual orientation”
“Do the sex”
“Raoul’s enjoying this”
“Vicomte de Chokeme”
“(insert character name)ussy”
“Yeah skip this bitch”
“Gaston is lowkey thicc”
ethnic ambiguity; or, what is lily evans? a collection of microaggressions
i am neither pakistani nor turkish, but i am (like lily here) ethnically ambiguous. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been asked what i am, told i am not asian enough or not white enough, called exotic or “oriental” (good gOD do not call me oriental), and how much i’ve watched my mom and grandmother suffer for their race in this damn country. so this is for @prongsyouignoramus, but this is also for me. may we someday have canon characters who look like us. love you, precious human <3
• she goes by lily, has ever since the first time in primary that a teacher refused to call her by her first name
• she’s always rather liked her full name, ayşa lily evans, she never thought it was that difficult to say, but the teachers and the other kids cant or dont want to learn to say ay-sha, so lily it is
• by age ten she knows her family’s story a lot. her mother is half pakistani (punjab, she thinks, but some details are fuzzy) and half turkish, moved to england in 1951 shortly after india and pakistan split.
• dad learnt turkish for her mother, they say, and lily always liked the language, but her favorite is the way urdu rolls off her tongue
• tuney (mariam petunia) has a hard time with the languages though, she tries really hard but the words dont always sound right when she says them
• she and her sister dont look very much alike at all, petunia looks a lot like dad with blonde hair and a small english nose, but tuney’s skin gets really dark in the summer and she never ever burns, and she has their mama’s long, elegant fingers
• lily looks a lot more like mama, darker skin and kind of rounder nose. she’s short like mama too, has thicker and coarser hair than petunia, but their hands and chins are absolutely identical
• its hard to go to the store with just her sister and her dad, the other people always look at her like she’s the odd one out and the clerks always ask if she’s petunia’s friend from school
• the languages have always been harder for tuney, the prayers too, but they both learn really young how to make chawal kofta and the flat, oven baked bread with mama. Petunia was always better at cooking than lily, but lily still treasured the times with mama making kofte and paratha and whatever else they wanted for dinner
• when she goes to hogwarts, the tables are filled with shepherds pie and everyone’s favorite english foods, but she’s never been able to freely eat meaty english food before in case its not halal, so she has to settle for the vegetable options (which are still lovely and delicious of course)
• professor mcgonagall is the first to notice little first year lily evans isnt eating much at meals, and assures her matter-of-factly that they make accommodations at meals. professor mcgonagall becomes a fast favorite of lily’s
• lily loves her new housemates to bits, but something makes her a bit uncomfortable when little blonde emmaline vance asks “what are you” during their third evening together
• “dad’s british, mama’s pakistani and turkish” she says hesitantly, though what she wants to say is “i’m a person”
• she loves hogwarts, really she does, but she’s also kind of uncomfortable because people are always asking what she is or where she’s from, what muggles are like, and she just wants to curl up under mama’s shawls and eat desserts because she knows there’s not gelatin in them
• “i’m british” she says exasperatedly one day in third year when some boy asks her what she is for the twelfth time that year
• lily’s always been close to her culture, she loves the smell of mama’s mendhi and the cabbages pickling in the pantry, misses speaking turkish with her parents, practicing her writing after school
• petunia’s never been like that, maybe it’s because she’s the firstborn or maybe because no one believes she’s mama’s daughter, but in the summer before lily’s 7th year she brings home a man who wrinkles his nose at the keema aloo they’re having for dinner, and lily just wants to scream at him for his obvious disdain and disrespect but petunia doesn’t want her around anymore, so she eats her meal but doesn’t taste it, and escapes to her room as quickly as she can get away
• she’s back at school, irritated at the world, and the first ravenclaw who calls her features “exotic” and “different” gets punched straight in the nose and earns her a detention on her first week as head girl
• the nib of her quill breaks one day in charms, and she mutters a barrage of turkish and urdu swears, and she doesnt notice james potter look up at her from across the aisle
• he approaches her that evening, “were you swearing in hindi earlier in charms?”
• “urdu, actually,” she says, surprised. “i thought you spoke tamil”
• “i know a couple hindi words” he shrugs. “mostly the swears”
• “typical,” she rolls her eyes and walks away
• she realizes later in bed that james potter has never once asked her what she “is”
• she volunteers the information herself, next time they’re on heads patrol. “mama’s pakistani and turkish. my grandfather’s from west punjab.”
• “i always wondered” he replies easily.
• “why didnt you ask?”
• “because i know what cultural insensitivity feels like”
• a week later remus approaches her. “so. lil-ay” he says casually. “you got a favorite food?”
• she smirks. “you ever heard of lahana turşusu? Or aloo ki bugia? Baklava?”
• remus grins in reply. “no, but i can pass the message along.”
• that evening, sprinkled among the mincemeat pies and hearty stews, lily finds pickled cabbage and half circle potatoes, baklava for dessert, and she shoots a grin at james potter who sits down the row. he pushes his glasses up his nose, returns a shy smile in return, and helps himself to a heaping plate of aloo ki bugia. she asks him later how he did it; he introduces her to the house elves in return.
• james and lily swap travel stories on their next patrol. James talks excitedly about his summers on the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, of curry and spices and how the english can’t seem to be bothered to flavor their food. In return, she tells him about the palaces and museums of Lahore, how she loves the sounds of the call to prayer, the hurried bustle of the streets of Istanbul, and agrees fiercely about the English fear of flavor.
• “my real name’s janardhan” he says quietly one day. “nobody can say it though, so i go by james.”
• “my first name is ayşa” she replies. “it means ‘she who lives.’ mine’s spelled the turkish way, so no one wants to learn to pronounce it. so i go by my middle name, lily.”
• its nice, she thinks, having a friend who understands. it’s different of course; she’s never been denied help or been given lesser treatment by Slughorn, she’s never been outright bullied or hated for her skin color, but he’s never been asked what kind of asian he is or dealt with the odd misbalance of not quite belonging in a category. They both know how it feels to see their mother hated for her skin color, her clothing, her religion, her culture; and she finds it comforting to know that next time john davies calls her exotic, james potter will be near to hex him for her.
Birthday - EF - Sunanda Pandey .. Amira, Egypt .. Shiv AB Ef .. Friday July 21, 2017 .. be the birthdays of these wonderful Ef .. all so prominent and loved .. Amira from Egypt, who has been a constant from the 1990-91 visit of mine to Cairo .. Shiv from Assam .. and Sunanda with great art work she sends ..
Another dear family friend leaves us .. a student of my Father, a writer and litterateur himself, a learned individual that worked with my Father on many of the publications and the proof readings, and was lately working with me on the poems that he and I were collaborating on for translations to be done .. so sudden and disturbing .. one by one they all go .. some of the last to have been close to the family and my Father in particular .. a entire wealth of information and detailing of the works of my Father, gone with his demise .. where do I go now ?
And age and time keep telling us the years gone by .. and suddenly on something quite obtuse, you are in realisation of it .. a property on set is being used for the scene that I enact and I am in shock to learn that no one on set, knew of how to operate it, or whether they had ever used one of them ..
Its the record player of yore, the gramophone player, that played vinyl records through that arm carrying the needle which when placed on the record started to play .. after winding the spring inside the machine .. so fascinating .. yet, no one on set had ever used one, let alone heard of its presence ..
Suddenly reminded me of what age I was and what age I was living in ..
Here it is :
And every time I look at one of these - incidentally they are coming back into fashion again ; a record company presented me with one and several vinyl records of the times of old - I am reminded of the one we had .. rather my Mother had .. and one that she had brought along with her when she married my Father .. in fact as far as I remember, that was all that she brought across from her very affluent Sikh home in erstwhile Punjab and Lahore, now Pakistan, to my Father’s modest home after marriage. It was the same mechanism, but a larger body .. almost the height of say about 4 feet from the ground, had the winding system and the needle to play the records .. many a moment has been spent by me with it throughout my early years as it travelled from Lahore to Allahabad, to Delhi in our homes .. it was quite a sizeable package .. and all the popular film songs my Mother, an enthusiast, would get and we would listen to .. one particular record of a famous ghazal written by one of the last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar .. .”Lagta nahin hai dil mera ….do gaz zameen bhi na mili, kuun-e-yaar mein “ .. ‘लगता नहीं है दिल मेरा … दो गज़ ज़मीन भी ना मिली, कूँ -ए- यार में ‘ still rings in my ears .. that and Tchaikovskys ‘Swan Lake’ .. incredible composition ..
My Father found it a distraction from my studies and was very strict about its usage, but when he was away I would stealthily use it, to my Mother’s great amusement .. !!
Oh .. !!! and the most loved by me another number ..’the Portuguese Washer Woman’ .. what music it had .. I would dance to it in my room all by myself, imagining a partner with me .. hehehahaah .. those were such fun and innocent days .. the song was the inspiration for a Shammi Kapoor ji song in one of his earlier movies ..
And there was one other record that my Mother always played .. i can remember the tune but not the words or the history of it .. aaahhh … it just slips my mind all this .. there was a time when I could remember all and more .. age is such a pacifier .. !!!
I watch as I undergo my routine workout and gym physio, the channel that plays all the songs from all the films in operation now .. and I am so impressed to see the dance and the music and the choreography and the locations .. and all these young fresh and bright faces of this generation of artists .. and I lament the fact that I would never be able to be a a part of this .. this fanfare, these great presentations, those movements and the handsome and pretty ladies and men .. those years of the past are past .. now its 102 years of being not out .. and the prosthetics and grey and white hair and beards and stooped walk and false teeth and slow and measured steps and speech .. and characters that shall eventually either perish or be overcome by the young other .. I love what the new generation does, how they do and love the energy and exuberance they display … and sit back and wonder .. !!