(Dhol is Urdu for drum; Bhajaa is Urdu for horn)
I haven’t been as prolifically bloggertastic these past five months but that doesn’t mean that the interweb is not moving forward. While I was experiencing the throes of my second semester at law school, processing all my misgivings about being a law student and becoming a practicing attorney, I didn’t have much time to process a pretty significant event taking place on the digital platform but now its time to reflect and put to rest a very good thing that happened to me through its discovery. This is a goodbye and thank you to Sepia Mutiny, a blog for South Asian politics, culture and discussion that ceased its html contribution back in April after 8 years of amazingness.
I was saddened by the news but also compelled to add a few pixels by code to express my sadness a month on. When a blog shutters its doors very little is heard except for frantic tapping on the plastic tabs of the key board, and then there is forever of silence, except those that relied on it, like me, in whom the blog continues to shape and express itself. In my frantic typing to catch up with the events that transpired there is a great degree of significance of the gratitude and appreciation I am publicly offering to Sepia Mutiny and the Mutineers.
As a silent observer I was very much in awe of the very existence of a “South Asian American” community, let alone one that shared my progressive world view. To understand this, please bare with me on my jaunt through my own South Asian identity awakening. I am a Pakistani, born in Karachi, that knows very little of Pakistan or experience being a Karachiate. My Pakistani experience was instilled into me by my parents because I was two (maybe three) years old when I came to the United States. I have known only America and “Pakistan” was a parental experience, a familial relation that was colored by the British Raj experience of my Grandparents. Luknow and Pune, India were my roots; Karachi, Pakistan was my transplanted experience- the complexity and diaspora of the Partition of India were very much my contextual basis of understanding who I was as a child. I never quite fit into this South Asian identity growing up in America and by the time I got to High School I was very much American.
I kept a distance from “Brown” people because I just didn’t find myself fitting in, maybe because I didn’t feel a shared experience; my parents weren’t very “Pakistani”. It was easier to identify as an American until 9/11. Suffice it to say experience, politics and life choices lead me to embrace Islam and reconcile that religious identity with being an “American” “Muslim” with “progressive values”. I felt at ease and complete having gone through years of this process. That was until I lost my Grandmother (Nani, my Mom’s mother) and a few months later my Grandfather (Dada, my Dad’s father). Around that time I also met Taz.
Taz introduced me to the Sepia Mutiny world and ya’all plunged me into a whole new aspect of my identity. I saw the light! I couldn’t reject the history- rich, vibrant and complex; the culture- spicy, wonderful and brilliant; because it represented universal struggles and sacrifices of my parents, my grandparents generation and a BILLION people who had the same sufferings and triumphs I had. Sepia was the gateway for me to discover that part of me, begin a new course and seek out knowledge from a civilization that represented the cornerstone of humanity.
What a splendid mutiny it has been! Incredible because i found people that showed me the potential of a dormant part of me and the place I have in this larger community. A mutiny is a bold risk, borne on the shoulders of honor, duty and values of high moral principles; or its simply a treacherous deed wrought in the deepest most inner ego of greed, desire and selfishness. This Mutiny has been both and oh so skillfully, like a masterful and dutiful surgeon wielding a blade, balanced between these two sides of the mutiny all these years. As sad as it will be to say Goodbye, new adventures always begin with endings of some sort. And furiously on some flickering screen and keyboard a new adventure is forming, a new mutiny is conspiring, inspired by this bold endeavor to mutiny. South Asian Americans are whispering, clamoring amongst themselves about the rights, honor and empowerment owed to them; about the injustice requiring justice, the dignity requiring a voice, but most importantly for a piece of that damned American Pie that belongs to us. These are the things yearning to once again be let loose into a unified voice on the web. i am certain some familiar characters will pop up bringing along new conspirators in this new tale. As long as things fare progressive, you will find a friend, supporter and fellow mutineer in me!
Good luck to all you industrious mutineers, you “whitish brown” people and may your future rabble rousing be as successful, wonderful, joyous, inspiring and appreciated as this one.