I was seven when I first realized that the world didn’t fit me quite right. Two sizes too big or two sizes too small, I wasn’t quite sure. As a child you’re too consumed with growing up to stop and analyze the mechanics of it. But retrospect, as they say, is 20/20.
Being uprooted from the streets of London, England to the streets of Toronto, Canada is a pretty big jump for such a young mind. The youngest of four (at the time) I felt very much like the tail end of a very long snake, unsure where the head was leading.
Arriving in Canada was a little bit of a culture shock, let alone a climate shock. We were unprepared for Canada’s weather, the early April winter taking its last bite into our tender British skins. But aside from that, it was clear from the start that the locals perceived me as an other. With my mixed heritage (British and East Indian — what is known as Anglo-Indian) and strong English accent, there was no mistaking that I was different. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to draw attention to myself so, I did what any cunning seven year-old would do when dropped behind enemy lines — I tried to blend in.
There wasn’t much I could do about my heritage. Being spit on and called a paki is something I’ll never forget. But I also know that racism will always persist until we stop dealing in labels altogether. There is good and bad in everyone — you just have to focus on the good.
As the years wore on, I became more comfortable with my true self, my British self. Turns out the Canadian kid was just a role I was playing to get by. Who knows what damage that double life has done to my psyche but I try to focus on the positive lessons it has taught me.
That profound sense of #alienation only seemed to heighten my self-awareness. Yes, I’m an #introvert, but I know my inner mind — both my strengths and weaknesses — intimately. As an observer, I am necessarily more of a listener than a talker (I find you can learn more that way) but I am infinitely inquisitive about the world around me and the people who inhabit it.
So as a #scifi #writer, these traits - and countless more coursing through my veins - serve to fuel my imagination, driving me to create new worlds to explain the one that I often cannot. When I see all the things that humankind is capable of, both the good and the bad, I imagine what it must be like out there and feel those stories must be told. And who better to tell them.
After all, it takes an #alien to know an alien…