ABCD is a term (that can sometimes be derogatory) used for Desis born in the U.S. As parents, it’s always a struggle to keep our Indian heritage alive in our kids while they grow up outside of India. But our kids might be more confident about their identities than we think. Today, we have a guest blogger, our dear friend Radhika, who writes about her conversation with her kids and what ABCD really should stand for!
For folks from India and around, these letters stand for American Born Confused Desi (Desi, often collectively used for people from the Indian subcontinent.) It is used to refer to first generation Americans of immigrant parents, such as our children. This term must be coined by non ABCDs, meaning the born and bred Desis or the immigrants. In our household, a very Indian household at heart, we enjoy and comfortably accommodate the variety these two cultures offer, at least the way I see it. No single language prevails, popular music of all kinds is played. Even though Indian cuisine is predominant, we enjoy foods from all over. Our closest friends are people from America, India, Mexico and Ukraine. The one unique quality about Bombay, my hometown, I share with America at large is that both are melting pots of people from various places with different backgrounds, cohabiting with ease. My girl asked me the other day what the letters stood for. To my surprise she took it pretty seriously. I didn’t think at ten years, she was old enough to grasp it. But in her usual calm and articulate manner she said that in her opinion the ‘C’ should stand for ‘Clear’ instead of ‘Confused’. She said she was obviously American born but that didn’t confuse her at all. She put it simply, “I am an American born Indian. I have no confusion about it in my mind. I have two countries which are both mine.” Yet again, my usually reticent daughter, bowled me over with her obviously ‘Clear’ thought process. My son was observing and marveling at his sister’s intelligence, as always. Not the one to be left out of any discussion, he contributed too. He asked me if they were considered American Born Confused Desi kids, then could we, as in the parents, be considered IBCA, Indian Born Confused Americans? He left me totally speechless. For a six year old this was pretty intense. I am not sure if this was only an innocent play of letters for him or an observation? One can’t hide anything from children they say. I experience it firsthand every day. They are very sensitive to their Desi Aai. Baba is usually very composed hence probably easy to deal with. I wonder if this duality is a struggle for them or just a part of their lives. They’ve never demonstrated a tussle. Their friends are comfortable at our place. Over the years we have seamlessly come together in-spite of our obvious differences. Food, language, expressions; even though different, we meet at a common place.
Baba coaches his football team in which he plays soccer. When I ask them to take a bath, they know it means showers. Be it garbage or trash, it all needs to be picked. A shoe bite or a pinching shoe, both are painful. In the end we all relish dosas. We celebrate Christmas and have Tandoori turkey for Thanksgiving! She teaches me about the American Civil war and I tell her stories about the Indian struggle for independence. He loves eating his rice with his little fingers. Like a true blue blooded desi, he loves hot sauce with all his food. We jokingly tease each other about our respective accents. At home we have come to develop our own unique one. We all bond over Bollywood. All in all I think we are fortunate to have the variety. We all grow up together, having a blast mostly.
There is Clearly no Confusion about that.
For more, visit Radhika’s blog.