I am an Indian Muslim. My father Abdul Kareem was born in Hutton Lane, Penang in 1945. My mother Nisha was born in Halfway Road, Penang in 1955.
My grandfather Ahamed, on my dad's side, and grandfather Othman, on my mother’s side, were also born in Malaya. Their fathers, Nagore Meera and Shahul Hameed, travelled all the way to Penang from India with their families when they were little boys.
My great-grandfather Nagore Meera came from a small village in Tamil Nadu called Kadayanallur, located in the Tirunelveli district. His family were cotton weavers.
My other great-grandfather, Shahul Hameed, originated from Kerala. During the Hindu-Muslim feud back then, his father, Mydin, decided to relocate his entire family to Kadayanallur, a safer Muslim neighbourhood in Tamil Nadu. There, they wove blankets to make ends meet.
As such, I am of Tamil and Malabar blood. That is my ancestry, and one that I am proud of.
I know my story – where I came from, the struggle of the people who made me who I am today. I believe to own oneself, we first must own our stories, and to own our stories, we must not be ashamed of them...