Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Straddling the Median
I've often been asked to describe what it feels like to mingle with the Punjabi culture and, if I'm being quite honest, I'm afraid to be completely honest. I mean, they are delightful, kind, generous people. But, when you venture outside of your culture, you never quite become a member of the other. You are always an outsider. It's hard. There is something inside of me that wants so badly to become a part of them. And I don't know all of the reasons. And I skirt this issue in my novel. But I need to come out with it and pray that I don't hurt the people whom I love so deeply.
Because I can see that it's not their fault. They did not ask me to become obsessed with them. They did not ask me to dress in their clothes or speak their language or try to cook their foods. And I can't begin to explain my desire to do so. On a very deep level, I feel like I am home when I am with them. Sometimes when I'm in a Punjabi gathering, I pray that God will suddenly allow me to understand Punjabi fluently so that I won't feel left out. But even when I feel left out, I'd rather be in their midst.
I'm writing this here in my blog so that I can remember to put it in my book. And as an explanation in case the book makes my exclusion by the Punjabi culture seem harsh. I realize it is my own doing - forcing myself into a group of people who never asked for my crazy gori presence. Still, it's hard when they don't ask me to sit with them at gurudwara or dance with them at the vasaikhi mela. Especially since my own 'people' look at me as an oddity for wanting something I'll never have. All I know is that, on some level, I am Punjabi and that it speaks to me. It has brought me to a rather lonely place. But it is who I am. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Mere naam Amandeep Kaur hai, te Punjabi passande hai.