I’m penning this apology as testament to my foolishness and blind behaviour when I was younger.
To my younger self, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry you looked at myself in a full length mirror and willed your skin to transform from the fair olive tone it possessed, to the pale white you craved so badly. To let your eyes, transform from their “hellish” black to the light blues and greens you saw on your classmates.
I’m sorry you took words to heart and put yourself through the pain of waxing and hair removal when you were too young. Not to mention, running a razor down your arms just to see how clean and “white” you looked without the hair covering your skin.
I’m sorry you took the words of boys to heart and felt the need to alter your appearance, not for your own satisfaction, but so I could fit in.
I’m sorry you took the hate to heart, when the girls in your class called you unclean because your skin was brown. When they said they couldn’t play with you because you weren’t Australian and their mothers said no.
I’m sorry you didn’t have the courage to retaliate when uncultured men on the streets called you a “curry bitch” and asked if you were going to have an arranged marriage.
I’m sorry you had to endure the embarrassment of not talking back to the girls who taunted you because you didn’t do sciences and preferred economics and history as subjects to study.
I’m sorry you had to endure the looks and whispers in a grocery store when you were picking up food while dressed in traditional Indian garments because you had returned from a cultural event and had no time to change.
This is an apology for all the times you and your friends endured the racist slurs and xenophobia while on the streets.
This is an apology for all the times you silently sat there while bigots asked if you were an affiliate of terrorist organisations because your skin is brown and your hair is black.
This is an apology for all the times you cursed your meat intolerance because individuals would not let go of the fact that you’re a vegetarian, finding the need to insist that your religion was stupid for stopping you from eating meat, even though you told them countless times that it was physically impossible for you to ingest meat without throwing up.
This is an apology for the times when you silently accepted that you would never be first preference because of the colour of your hair, skin and eyes.
This is an apology for the times when you sat quietly and let people mispronounce your name, all the while wishing your parents had named you a whiter name.
This is an apology for the pride you held and still hold when you identify yourself as a coconut. Brown on the outside, white on the inside.
This is an apology for the times you asked your mum to make pasta, sandwiches and quinoa so you wouldn’t have to take parathas or curry with rice and explain why your food smelt so weird and looked so strange.
This is an apology for the times you tried to distance yourself from your culture and your heritage because you were ashamed of who you thought it would make you.
An uncultured fob.
Now I’m learning that 13 years of feeding myself negativity about my name, skin, colour, culture and heritage has made me nothing more than a shell of who I should be.
I’m learning to accept myself for who I am. I’m so sorry for clamping down on your spirit, vitality and innocence and subjecting you to the horrors of our world from such an early age.
Because now? yes I have such a long way to go, but the acknowledgement that I am a beautiful amalgamation of two explosive cultures that are so unique and different in all the right ways. This is a call for hope that you’ll accept my mistakes and join me as I explore my biculturalism and learn to see myself for who I am, who I was born to be, and who I aspire to show the world.
Because people without their culture, heritage and identity are like trees without roots.
But you? You’re the seedling of two beautiful cultures that deserve to be celebrated, accepted and loved in all lights and all colours.