Born in Denmark in 1987 as a love child. My dad fled Thamizh Eezham a few years before my mum and they had been separated for almost two years when they met in Denmark. My dad was living in Germany when my mum arrived in Denmark. He then packed his bag and left for Denmark. At the border he had to argue his case of wanting to be reunited with the love of his life and his two children. My accamaarrs. And boom. 9 months after, I was born.
Growing up we were not allowed to speak Danish at home. It might sound strict, but it is one of the best things that happened in my childhood.. My parents' view was that we spent most of our waking hours in the Danish society, engaging with Danes, going to Danish schools, so they believed in the fact that Danish would come naturally, however in that environment Thamizh wouldn’t. And Sunday Thamizh school for 3 hours wouldn’t cut it.
I am forever grateful for that mindset that my parents had, because that’s where I have my Thamizh from. My Thamizh was so full of the Yaazhpaanam accent or dialect, that when I arrived in Eezham for the first time as a 13 year old, people didn’t believe I was born in Denmark. They argued that I must have had a few years as a child in Thamizh Homeland to be able to speak so fluently. Coincidently I met an extended family member, an uncle, on my last trip to Thamizh Homeland.
We were having a talk about school, university, education and suddenly he asked “Entha palkalaikalatthula padicchaneengal?” as if he believed I had resided in Thamizh Homeland for most of my life before living abroad as an adult. I laughed and said “Copenhagen '' which shocked him.
Growing up in Denmark I don’t remember having many Thamizh friends before my teenage years. However the interest in Thamizh language and culture came before the teenage years. I was the only one at my age in Thamizh class so I was moved up to my accamaarrs class. Being a competitive child at that time I wanted to prove that I was good enough to be in the class with the older students.
Years went by and I entered the University of Copenhagen to study Political Science. I had next to none Thamizh friends those years and quite easily I fell back into the mindset of being “Danish”. I dropped out before my final year, got a job as Marketing Strategist at a major photo-production company. Suddenly I had this huge need to be Thamizh again. I started cooking Thamizh food despite the fact that I am a bad cook. All of a sudden all my conversations with my close friends turned to the war in Eezham. My best friend Marc is a war veteran. He had served in Afghanistan some years ago so talks about war and refugees came easily to him. It was important for me that he understood where I came from, so we went on a one month holiday to Eezham in 2012.
In 2016 I went back to school. This time at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. At this point I felt more secure in my Thamizh identity, but being amongst primarily white students, I started to somehow ‘hide’ that part of me again. The media industry in Denmark has the lowest rate of diversity with only 4,2 percent employees from minorities. That accounts for every foreigner. Imagine being a brown womxn in that sector?
In the summer of 2018 I quit my job at the newspaper and moved to the Thamizh Homeland. This move was life-changing. A lot of things fell into place. I was able to clear my head and find myself again with help from another best friend of mine, Anushani.
When I came back to Denmark I stayed at my parents' house for a few months. I had taken my boat up on land during my stay in Yaazhpaanam (This would be a good time to mention that I usually live on my boat Kadalmagal). By March I had Kadalmagal cleaned up, fixed and ready to get in the ocean again. I moved in, sailed around, took care of my mental health during the pandemic and I started working on AnbudanSugi. Being on the ocean for days, sometimes weeks, was the best environment for me to find my creative side again. Not have my mind influenced by outsiders and to find my core.
Today I switch between the house, where AnbudanSugi operates from and Kadalmagal. I have a chosen family, whom I cherish and my own space on Kadalmagal surrounded by the ocean.
Even today I struggle with my identity. But I believe it’s a lifelong process and I embrace that process. Allowing my thoughts to stay and take the space they need until I’m ready to let them go.
Today I claim my diaspora identity even though most of the basic decisions that formed my life were out of my control. Ending up being diaspora wasn’t my choice. But today I claim it, so I can use it for greater things.