Mixed Humans ~ Reflections on occupying a space of inbetweenness. Persistently grappling with identity.

Natalie Armitage

Authenticity. Authentic. What is that? I always wondered, what it meant when people referred to the lentils mum made us as “really authentic, not like that stuff you get in the curry houses thats not real, its not actually indian compared to this”. I assume it was because she was the only indian person that they actually knew, the first time that they actually saw lentils being made in this way.

Authenticity. The first thing that comes to mind was a house, a large old manor that was converted into a place called “Trading Boundaries” and there were two large model elephants outside. We used to go there to look at the furniture that had been imported from Bali on the way back from school. It was lavish.

The objects and ornaments in there mixed with the smell of incense felt like something, out of a book I read called A Little Princess. A story, of little rich girl that feels lost and abandoned in London, after being sent to boarding school from India where her father is a Captain. Upon her father’s death in war, and a confusion about financial ownership she is rendered worthless by the English headmistress and made to be a servant at the school, where previously she was a princess. Anyway, the part that I remember is that she becomes friends with a black girl called Becky, who is also a servant though treated a lot worse than the princess, but they bond over their misery and become friends and the princess entertains her with magical stories of Gods in India. There is also a pet monkey involved somewhere that they play with and love as much as they do each other.

What a story to read as a little girl. Being half indian, half english, the princess of my fathers eye, blissfully unaware of what colonialism actually was. Confusion, is a word that doesn’t quite cover it. Authentic?…

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