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April 2019 Vol. 15 No. 1

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Raamesh Gowri Raghavan


Growing up in Fazilka in the lates '80s, I was too fat, too short and too dark. In the first term of 5th standard, new to the school, I aced the class. The so-far-class-topper's parents were so incensed that my class teacher caved in and reduced my marks on some technicality. My protests were met with an admonition that second place was good enough for a person so short and dark.

I failed to understand the connection then, and I still do. I failed to understand the discrimination and xenophobia then, but I do now. My parents wouldn't fight; in their eyes an immigrant child learns to grin and bear it, a kind of reverse snobbery. Perhaps they said that to make me feel better about myself, knowing they were against prejudices that were too deep for a generation to overcome. They did know that in a couple of years, I'd be out of this anyway. I never attempted to come first again, even though we did move to a better place and a better school.

putting on
my best Queen's English
I explain
that driving while brown
is nowhere a crime

Note: Madrasi is a racist slur used by North Indians for South Indians.