Author Archives: Radhika Jit

Radikal Readings: Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion

While my family is from the Fiji Islands and has been there for generations, we are of South Asian decent. This means that there are still cultures and norms that I can relate to on a certain level. One of those to an extend is the pressure placed on South Asian American daughters to behave a certain way.

Piyali Bhattacharya’s compilation has a theme of the burden of expectations placed on daughters with stories from South Asian American women on their experiences growing up. What I appreciate is that each story reflects the multiple facets of daughterhood. As the book’s description says, “Her gratitude for her immigrant parents’ sacrifices creates intense pressure to perform and embody the role of the “perfect daughter.” Yet, the demand for such perfection can stifle desire, curb curiosity, and make it fraught for a Good Girl to construct her own identity in the face of stern parental opinion.”

The stories are simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking. I immediately handed it off to my cousin to read, as this is one of those books that I think every South Asian American can appreciate, and really, immigrant woman of color in general. I hope to see more immigrant woman of color not just telling their stories but those stories being published and shared widely.

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Forget

One day you forget his bitter smell
and one day you forget your shame.
You remember how your small cry
rose like a blackbird from the corn,
when you picked yourself up from the earth
how the clouds moved on.
– Sandra Cisneros
When poetry can not only speak to your soul but heal you, that’s the greatest gift of all.

Song of the Day: Jungle

I’ve always felt that there’s something undeniably mesmerizing about a badass guitar riff. Even better when it’s by a woman. Tash Sultana is a young Australian musician who is described as a one-woman band. That title makes sense when you listen to Jungle. The song features an addictive guitar riff that she loops, which allows her to add in other riffs and music layered on top. It’s an interesting technique that gives the song a jam-band feel. It’s a mellow song with a slightly dark feel. Sultana’s voice, while not super strong, has an interesting quality to it which I can appreciate.

Radikal Readings: Migritude

While I make a point to read women of color as much as possible, that is also what I naturally gravitate towards. In their stories, I find my own. This is the case with Shailja Patel’s Migritude. It’s a poetic memoir with political history weaved in. Patel tells a story that I can relate to as an immigrant woman of color. She paints a portrait of family history and women’s lives in particular, imperial violence and the migrant journeys they take. Patel herself was born in Kenya and lived in both England and the United States. She is also a performance artist and the book sometimes reads as a performance because of this.

It’s a deeply satisfying read and while it’s extremely personal, it was also relatable because Patel address the wider political issues of empire, injustice, colonialism and what it means to be an immigrant. I can’t recommend enough.

Song of the Day: On Melancholy Hill

I’m completely late to the Gorillaz. I remember when their song Clint Eastwood came out and it felt like that was all that was being played on MTV. I hated it and never invested any time into listening to any of their other music.

That changed when I heard On Melancholy Hill. It’s exactly the kind of music that I love. The mellow, woozy, ethereal romanticism that makes you feel as though you could be floating on a cloud – my favorite kind of music. I could listen to it on a loop and still not get tired of it.

Well you can’t get what you want
But you can get me
So let’s set out to sea
‘Cause you are my medicine
When you’re close to me

 

Transformation of Silence

In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.

– Audre Lorde

Song of the Day: A Lenda do Caboclo

Melancholy, that’s what I feel when I listen to A Lenda do Caboclo. Originally written by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, this version is by Yo-Yo Ma. The track is often translated as The Legend of the Native, as the word Caboclo is related to the mix between indigenous Brazilians and Europeans.

I heard the song in the final episode of Mozart in the Jungle’s third season and it so perfectly captured the mood of the scene (that show is full of wonderful music). I spent the next few days listening to this on a loop. Beautiful.