My love affair with being a Deshi, the actual word for the slang Desi, began when I was mocked for being a writer who is desi.
I love being a desi. I have always loved being a desi. Even when I was trolled for being a desi who can write. I keep myself away from a lot of burgers who do not like to be called Desi’s because, you know, it is just not what the world needs at the moment. So it is quite hard to find a lot of people who would like to be called a desi, but when I do find those who love being desi’s, we connect, share a good laugh, and leave off on a good note. And if you come across a desi writer, then feeling is nothing short of a utopia. By the way, if you want, you can connect with a lot of writers who are desi, mind you, by going to the Desi Writer’s Lounge. They have a Facebook community as well.
Unfortunately however, the global world does not bother much about the term, and if we go in a bit detail, we can understand why the trolling exists in the first place. The word Deshi (yes that is the actual word, YOU MORONS) has been used – manipulatively – by a large number of capitalist corporations for selling product that we do not need. Meanwhile, the global workforce has quite well twisted the meaning of the word Desi by exploiting cheap labor for trillions of profit. It is no surprise then that the societies built on racism, mistrust, and imperialism, disregard the vast experiences and cultural diversity that Deshi’s bring to the global world. Whether they are coming from South Asia or from any other part of the world, Deshi’s carry with them, both inside and outside, a plethora of cultural heritage that dates back to centuries. Yes, we own the Indus Valley Civilization that you people read in World History and Heritage.
Martin Luther King fought for the rights of Black people. Black people, back then, had absolutely no rights and were subjected to cruel racism from the whites. Martin Luther King gave a new meaning to the word Black and brought the people of that color under one umbrella. Just like the word Black, Desi, for me is a word that defines unity, respect, and togetherness. Unfortunately, in my twenty years or so, I have never heard the word Desi used in a collegial manner. Unlike the Blacks, Desi, in many cases, is just like a similar knock at the door when you move to a new neighborhood. And unfortunately, Desi, in our part of the world is mostly used for adult based websites, adult Instagram accounts, or for marketing a mixture of Bollywood hits. This is not what the word Deshi (or Desi) signifies. It is much beyond its known scope.
Being a Desi signifies your love for your mother land and your struggle for being better at everything you do. In other words, it is like a badge of a warrior who is resistant to the capitalistic, imperialistic, and the self-proclaimed superpowers of this world (Yes, I am talking about them).
To be a real desi, it is about going beyond the man-made borders that are drawn using the blood, sweat, and tears of millions of humans. It is an umbrella uniting people from different parts of the world. This umbrella works on the basis of a peace-offering, bringing the ones involved together under one common identity. Won’t you feel great if Pakistani’s, Indians, Bangladeshi’s, Nepalis’s, Asians, Gujarati’s, Punjabi’s, and other Desi Asians, start sharing the same bond of humanity and unite under the umbrella of Deshi (or Desi). I know I will.
Every time I hear the word Desi coming out from the mouth of someone, I feel a sense of pride. It is an acknowledgement from them about the struggle we have undertaken to establish our identity in this bifurcated world. It is a win for those who had their minds traumatized for hundreds of years owing to the colonization by them. It is a sign of freedom.
“I have been living in Canada for over five years now, but I have never been so proud before,” remarked a desi friend after participating in the Canada Day Bhangra Flash Mob for Canada’s 150th birthday. He danced his heart out because he is a desi at heart. This is what being desi is all about. It is about doing bhangra and getting everyone to dance with you, without worrying what the lyrics are actually saying. Don’t get me wrong here. We desi’s don’t do dance only. Being desi is, and has always been, about the fight for what is right. It is about fighting for the right to getting quality education. Being desi is about having a ton of aunties and uncles coming up to you, as soon as you grow up, asking you the damn question, “Beta, ab aagay ka kiya irada hai?”. At the same time, being a desi is about forgetting those aunties and uncles as you reach your twenties and realize that those arms are no longer safe to hold onto. Being a desi is about getting your ass checked, fingered, and x-rayed, at airports because the immigration laws are made stricter for you. Being a desi is about bearing the violence and gang wars, and listening to breaking news all the time, but still managing to be able to smile through.
Being a desi is about indulging in a chaotic life, day in and day out. Being a desi is all about kabhi khushi, kabhi gham and sometimes, it is about Ta Ra Rum Pum. Take my word for it: it is a mess being a desi. However, IT IS MY MESS. It is a mess that does not trap me or anyone associated with it inside a box.
Being a desi assures me every single day that I am indeed a part of something bigger in this world. I am wanted. I am under an umbrella. For being a part of the Desi community of this world, I am glad of associating myself with this term.