Custard and Curry

I am debating whether or not I should keep dating white people

On the last date

I went on, the boy I was with asked of my ethnicity and I let him guess

He did not get it right

I explain that I am Indian, Punjabi specifically, as well as British

He is confused when I say that although I am English

I am not half white

Just that my grandfather traded

Curry for custard and cake

And a few decades later my father traded that for

Nanaimo and beaver tail

As if I am any less British than

John, Jacob and Jack just because

I am the colour of Darjeeling

 

On our date

I sip at earl grey

He talks about how he prefers chai tea

Without realizing that chai means tea,

So he basically said he likes tea tea

And in Punjabi we do not say chai we say cha

So the whole thing is messy and redundant

 

He cuts into a stale donut

Strawberry jam oozes from its core

As he lays out the fractions of his heritage

He is one quarter this, seven tenths that, three eights this

I think about how I too share his fractured background

If you cut into me you would find streams of

European blood oozing from my core

I have the genetic makeup of colonizers too

I am red wine flowing from the open wounds of Indian girls worth French

I am hundreds of Sikh men crumbling like tea cakes worth Danish

I am steak knives plunging into turbans worth Portuguese

 

I am watered down white woman

Colonizers desecrated their way into my lineage

Entrenched themselves in my esophagus

Intertwined themselves in my intestines

Got mingled in and mixed up in my bone marrow

Settled into my stomach

Made their way through my digestive track

Like the tea my date bought me

Colonized without consulting me first

I guess the habit of dismissing consent is hereditary

 

On our date

I watch his hands firmly grasp his coffee cup

I try to imagine them touching me and I feel

Uneasy, unsafe, unnerved

Across the table his breath smells like

My temples being burned to a crisp

I guess his lips taste intergenerational trauma and

Recipes stolen centuries ago

 

I know these feelings are from

A mother from my past reaching into me

Extending her fist down my throat

Trying to pull out my common sense

Warning me that he is only here to pillage the uncivilized

 

To steal

To take what is not his and

Bring it back to the white woman waiting for him

In a gentrified coffee shop

The woman who waits his table and

Helps him give birth to his illegal immigrant ideology

 

I may be immigrant

Child of trespassers

Child of kitchen staff

And scrubbers of coffee shop floors

I may be birther of bohemians

Creator of children who will never be welcome anywhere

But you are what forced my flesh out of

My mother land to begin with

What made my grandfather trade curry for custard

On our date

He tells me that I look like

I could be half white

As if that is a compliment

As if being part victim and part abuser is beautiful

As if colonized is the new sexy

As if being the same colour of the people who

Plundered my village is ideal

Maybe that is why my people wear white to funerals

I am a walking funeral pyre

I am the death of my people over and over again

 

On our date

He expects me to enlighten him on a millennia’s worth of history

Instead I explain I am not the mouthpiece for all of Asia

Yes, India is in Asia

I am Asian

I have to draw a map on the lightest side of my hands

For him to follow along with

I tell him I am not the resting place for his white guilt

I will not carry it above my head like the

Brass pots my grandmothers used to carry water in

I am tired of dating white people who think I need

Validation from someone who looks like

They grew up on merchant sailing ships

People who look like settlers

I am not going to settle any longer

 

On our date

I explain to him that picking up the tab is not

The first step towards reparations against me and my people

The air in the coffee shop is tense

He tries to recover his bravado

He puts his money back in his wallet

He says he never liked custard and curry anyways