Are you from India?” is how they would start questioning my identity. As if my physical appearance looked too exotic to their Western eyes. Followed by “How are you Tamil?! You’re so light!” British colonization and the messed-up caste system gave birth to Tamils who fall under a spectrum of melanin poppin' beauties. And I’m sorry your ignorant mind and eyes fail to appreciate the diversity of skin tones resilient Tamils wear. While I strive to build and belong to a greater Tamil Community and the Tamil diaspora, I have always experienced that feeling of being “othered” or not one of them by my own given my “rare light” skin tone.
So as a settler on Turtle Island, the identity politics plays a huge role in my life. However, the more I grow older the more I identify myself as a Tamil before anything else, be it Canadian or Montrealer or South Asian. My parents were refugees who fled a civil war and who have faced genocide, cultural erasure, and stripped away from their homeland. Hence my identity is constantly juggling between the “Canadian” heritage I was born in and the rich Tamil heritage as offspring of Tamil parents. In these dual identities and societies, I will never feel like I truly belong to one or the other. There will always be that feeling of emptiness or lacking clarity in my life.