Where are you from? Depends what you mean by from? I’m born in Leeds, lived in Leeds all my 25 years but that rarely satisfies the question, “where are you from” it’s usually followed by no, where are you REALLY from? Sometimes it’s emphasised to where do you originate from? Because I’m too tanned for the north you see, probably the south too, maybe it’s this country. When you ask me where I’m from I momentarily stumble and my mind goes blank, the truth is I’m not too sure?
To be from somewhere suggests a sense of belonging, but I’ve rarely felt like I belong anywhere. You can find me under the checkbox ticked “other please specify”. My ethnicity is apparently too complex for British documents.
The question of “where are you from?” has always been tied up with ethnicity and race for me, so I generally take the stance of why on earth does it matter? Perhaps I’m being defensive. My parents originate from what was formerly known as British Guyana, what is known as the land of seven nations, seven races. Then generations back are from India. I’ve never visited either, I only know of the cultures second hand so growing up I often thought “can I really take a vast claim to them as my own identity?” I was born in Leeds, so geographically I’m from the north of the UK but not really because I’m shade tan all year round, never shade nude.
Words: Radhika Mary