There is a tree, a holy Banyan tree in India that has branches falling down to the ground. These branches eventually dig into the earth and become supplementary roots. Not unlike my baby and I, descending from the aeroplane onto Indian soil. It has been 22 years since I came here, and I am not sure what I am hoping to find. I have quickly slipped into the habit of speaking Hindi, so much so that it now colonises my dreams. When I am speaking with a cousin or uncle, I sometimes pause mid-sentence, searching for the correct vocabulary, and when my memory fails me, I resort to the English word.
I have found a warmth in my relatives, a gentleness that swathes my little one as well, as people offer to feed us, lavish us with clothes and presents.
These people have been missing most of my life. It sounds silly, but I feel like Harry Potter looking into the mirror of Erized, finally seeing his family for the first time.
Am I hoping to establish roots for my baby and myself? In a country that was always so far away, geographically and emotionally?
I keep looking for some unique hand-made textiles, in the hope that by wearing it in England, we will have some form of armour against the racism and bigotry. And also so that the proximity of it against our skin serves to sooth the identity crises I have suffered so far.
Am I an Indian mother? Will my son celebrate Christmas? And should he study Urdu or Arabic?
I struggle sometimes with the fact that his father’s family are English, and that he will lose any trace of his Indian heritage altogether. Why am I fearful of this? Because to have roots and relatives is a valuable asset to becoming a fully rounded human being. Virginia Woolf had an Indian great-great-grandmother. But she assimilated. Woolf’s heritage didn’t inform her life, which I beleive was a mistake. William Dalrymple, on the other hand, traces his roots back to the same great-great-grandmother and explores his Bengali blood with gusto.
I want my boy, and his descendants, to value the efforts of their forefathers and to learn from their lives. Perhaps that is why this blog is necessary, I am attempting to preserve some lesson for my child, anything I can make sense of from my own life that could assist his.