Caged:

Tamica Govender 

8-year-old Tamica would have described her life as a fairy-tale. My home was a castle, my family was part of the monarchy and I had everything I needed to be a happy child. As I grew older, I started to notice more things- patterns, behavior and harsh realities.

The directions that your parents give you, as a young child, shapes your view of life. As a young brown girl, my directions were very clear (and unforgettable, might I add). A good daughter was one that did well at school, was always well-mannered and always respected her elders (no matter the situation). Perfection is a requirement, no ifs or buts- you will do what is required. 

I never questioned the system and I never thought to- what was being shown to me made sense, at the time. I suppose that I knew on some level, this would cause destruction, and how could it not? Questioning a system that has ruled for many generations is bound to create waves. Many people still practice the limited system. I knew that I would face this battle as the underdog, which wasn’t something that I could face at the time.  “Don’t fix what isn’t broken, Tamica”, I would tell myself, but the system was so broken that I could not even see her cracks. So, being the good Indian child that I was, I followed the system and ignored the cracks. I did this until the system was exposed in sunlight and the reflections from the cracks hurt my eyes. 

Starting university, exposed me to many different things. Being away from home, and from the comfort that I was acquainted with, woke me up from the deepest sleep. It was as if the fog had lifted, and all I saw was the ugly truth. The world that I had lived in was not as magical as I thought, and my home was far from a castle. 

Stepping out of my home meant stepping into racism, xenophobia, sexualism and a general sense of hate. I was challenged. Not only as a woman, but as an Indian woman. All of these years, the picture of Tamica wasn’t even painted by me, but rather by the expectations of me. I was forced to find my real identity- the identity that was exposed to so much pain from the world around us. 

Stepping into my home meant stepping into unachievable expectations, harsh criticism and “tough love”. Looking back, I can’t say that I blame my parents for how they raised me, the system is broken. Our parents were raised the same way, but they never dared question it. This system is one that is running through our very bloods, and it seems that our generation is the only one who knows the content of their blood. 

Being a brown girl means feeling alone in society, but also in my own home. We are caged, but once the door is opened, we will soar high. The things that we have seen, the pain that we have felt and the battles that we have fought means that we aren’t only princesses, but warriors. 

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