I have recently read an excellent book, written by a British Asian,who was born here to immigrant parents. He described the living and working of the first generation Asians ,those who came to this country in the 1950s and the 1960s.
Reading it I realised how much everything has changed for the better in the 1970s when I arrived. Then again I lived in the affluent south of the country, being a professional myself,I lived and worked in a different world. There was very little,if any discrimination or racism where I was,and I didn’t have the proximity to tut-tutting hoards of other Asians.
I have been critical in my writings and have always condemned the fact that so many Asian women live behind doors, not speaking the language, and wasting their lives .
Reading Sathnam Sanghera’s “Marriage Material” made me sit up and examine my own prejudices.
He describes the lives of two such women, though one of them stayed behind the four walls, but she served the local community in her own way ,as a shop keeper and as a mother. The young bright ones like the author,are their sons ,who are a very vital part of the society and the country they were born in, and the ethic of hard work they inherited from their parents.
When I think of my life, comparatively it has been a bed of roses, we had good jobs, a good life and though we had the Asian tendency to work hard, not be frivolous and save hard,we ended up with two very bright children, both with their respective doctorates at an early age,and very successful careers. I couldn’t have imagined the struggle a lot of Asians have had to get somewhere in life.
Both of my children have married out of their race and religion, and am delighted to have gained two wonderful people to my family. Someone said that does it not bother me that when I die ,I would leave nothing of my culture behind.
It doesn’t bother me, may be because I have always believed in human values, not restricted to race or religion. Why should it matter? It feels quite selfish that we want to leave our symbols behind,at least to me. Am sure my children will keep my memories ,and so will the grand children, and I hope all those I encountered in my lifetime will remember me kindly too.
Though I know my late husband’s family don’t speak to me or want to have anything to do with the children,because ,they say I have turned them into people they don’t recognise.
This used to bother me a lot, I worried about it most of my life, now I feel as if am liberated from those shackles. And it was up to me to get this freedom.It is possible to stay shackled in by caste, creed and the fear of ridicule or being disliked,but believing that what you have done has been the best you could have ,it may not be for others ,but you couldn’t have done anything different, is wonderful.
I feel free, and proud of my life,but I also wanted to acknowledge that there have been,and are far too many women like me who have been and are still imprisoned in the tyranny of religion,culture and fear of the unknown.
Only they can liberate themselves.