“What are you?”
“I thought you were a white girl.”
“Do you even celebrate Christmas?”
“Paki isn’t even offensive, it doesn’t mean anything.”
“What’s that growing under your neck?”
I was never comfortable with my name. In college, I decided I wanted everyone to refer to me as “Kayla” and since then, I am Kayla.
I have had a lot of identity crisis’ in my life.
I’ve never really understood where I’m supposed to belong. At school, the Indian girls never got on with me because I just wasn’t Indian enough. I couldn’t speak Punjabi, I never watched Star Plus or any of the Indian music channels, so they laughed at me and ridiculed me for my lack of education. They just didn’t understand that exploring my culture actually embarrassed me. I wasn’t open with showing the world into my culture, because I was still learning to accept it myself. I just wanted to blend in. I just wanted to be white.
As a third generation, I don’t think my second generation parents helped either. They white washed themselves too. Arriving in the 60’s, my dad would get bullied at school for his quirks and differences; I understand why they were made to completely strip the culture from their personalities and become the western ideology they admired. They wanted to blend in. They just wanted to be white.
However, I’m not white and I will never blend in with those who are. I love my white friends, but unfortunately they will never necessarily understand how it feels to have friends who don’t understand your culture; how it feels when you see a white man parading in black face, just round the corner from your home.
That’s when I realised I had been too busy feeling sorry for myself, when I could use this passion more wisely to educate instead. Closed Doors gave me the ability to teach my friends about everything that makes me… me.
I taught them about my culture and our traditions. Through the eyes of Nikhil, they got to understand my world and the feelings I sometimes have. Sure as hell, my friends aren’t Indian, but they’re my friends because they took the time out to truly immerse themselves into my world.
I had never felt so comfortable with finally sharing my world with my peers. I was telling them absolutely everything. No longer afraid to speak my incredibly broken Punjabi and instead of judgement, they welcomed it with open arms and understanding.
That’s when I realised it doesn’t matter where I belong. So long as I have amazing people around me, regardless of race, regardless of any of our differences, if they’re loving, caring and understanding, that is exactly where I’m supposed to belong.
Closed Doors is officially being released for public viewing and I really urge you to watch. Not only was it a huge challenge for many of my non-Indian friends, as not only did they have to make a beautiful and powerful film, but they had to learn the in’s and out’s of Nikhil’s and Channu’s complex relationship. They jumped head first into learning about a whole new world and telling a story that hits very close to home personally.
I am Nikhil and this is my story and I am incredibly scared for you all to watch, but I really hope you get something out of it and maybe you will learn something new.
You can find the film here and I hope you enjoy:
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