We Come from the Heart

June 27, 2023

 I am not scared of the main stream media. I’m too old, too obnoxious, and far too ‘on the fringe’ for trifles such as that. I say what I like and I like it that way.  It’s not going to bring me any favours and probably much less support… but I have always rolled on the edge, and that’s exactly where you’ll be finding me… trying desperately to make sense of our reality today. And as the decades roll by, I remain ever the more bewildered.

I’m a brown girl; born to Indian parents. I grew up in a white working class area, and when I was younger I’d have much preferred to have been white – like all the other kids in school. When I reached my teens I wouldn’t have even minded being black, because black was cool, black people were on the telly, reading the news and excelling at sports… But brown people, well we were just an undercurrent of unassuming corner shop owners (Paki’s to some) who needed to go home. 

But you know what? Most of the time I actually thought I was white! Because it’s easy to forget what you look like when you’re out and about – you can’t see yourself! I was exuding the whiteness of my western brain in thought, word and deed, until the occasional rebuke of “Paki”, put me back in my place. But it wasn’t only those hateful words hurled from afar, that put me back in my place. That seemingly innocent but dreaded question of “where are you from”, was always far worse. Because to someone who is spending most of their time denying being brown, this is a question that politely reminds you that, try as you might you will never be able change your Indian featured face. There I would be, thinking very ‘English’ and talking very ‘English’, while some nincompoop would have the audacity to single me out. Not only for being different but also for not belonging to where I though I belonged and only because of how I looked! 

So I went about life with this confidence crushing complex of trying to be un-brown, but then in my late 20’s everything changed. No, not a face transplant, but I started doing yoga and at the yoga centre, I found that they actually loved brown people! I mean you would almost think these folk wanted to be brown themselves. They revered in Indian philosophy, culture, history, food, music, ‘everything’. It was odd, but quite pleasant and it was only then that I started to take a little interest in my own cultural heritage. I had finally found a place where being brown was cool, but that wasn’t the best part it… I got to learn about the great Vedantic mysteries and the practice of non-attachment to the transient material body, which turned out to be the very skills needed to navigate through the great challenges of life.  Because when we shed away the layers, we are ultimately neither white, brown, male or female, not our emotions our qualifications or even our social standing: - we are simply limitless spirit soul having a human experience and it sounded good to me!

Nowadays life is chill, but my years of unhappiness are still not fully over - inequality and judgement continue to exist, but I now know that it is not my body that I need to change. Unhappiness lies in the mind and it is only in the acceptance of ourselves, that we can truly be free. Sadly, it is from our earliest beginnings, that we are subject to the conditioning nature of ‘want’, our options limited as we consume our way out through life. This is a societal culture of ‘short lived’ satisfaction, where vast amounts of money are exploited from our desires to improve our ‘lot’ in life.
Growth and evolution are wonderful qualities, otherwise perhaps we’d all still be sat in caves! But I am glad that ethnicity reassignment surgery does not exist. Because ultimately it is only in the acceptance of ‘who’ we are and in gratitude of what we already have, that lasting fulfilment is truly possible.
Definitions and categories and boxes, let us throw away the labels and let us all be free. Free to express ourselves in any way that we wish. Because whoever we are and wherever we’re from, let it be that we will always come from the heart.