From the Punjab to Rugby - Part Two

The Crossing Borders group tried several art techniques to explore ideas about identity and migration including recreating their own personal objects from home in modroc, paint and applique.
Image courtesy of Heritage & Culture Warwickshire and Helen Barff
Oral history of Gucharan and Jaswinder, for Crossing Borders project - part two


[continued from part one]

I: So did you ever learn English formally or you just picked it up?

J: No, no. Picked it up. You know, boys grown up now. If I ask something, they don’t bother, say leave it, mum, you can do what you want. And if you going somewhere, you can manage. You can manage. That’s it. They don’t bother. You know, that’s it.

I: Apart from the language, you had a lot to learn when you came here?

J: That’s it. Yes, because how the people eating the food here because I am vegetarian. Strict vegetarian. She is vegetarian as well so when I start work in fish and chips restaurant every day I feel terrible smell. I can make fish and chicken but when I make home for the boys the lamb meat that’s the same situation is now but more difficulty is the language. If you don’t understand the language you can’t do anything. When I start work I work in our language people. You know only when you work in different people then you learn more language. I only, when I work in my restaurant, then I feel how can I …because I feel shy speak in front of people. May be because I thought because they thought I not speak very good English, you know. When I work in the restaurant then I don’t bother. Doesn’t matter which way I speak I can speak because that’s difficulty I have to speak because otherwise I can’t serve the people, I can’t cook.

I: Did you find the same?

G: Ya, the language is very difficult for me.

J: But when she go to the doctor and hospital she can manage as well.

G:But my sister-in-law with me and my husband when I came from India [they talk in Punjabi] .

J: Okay. [discuss in Punjabi] But now she can manage little bit but her husband go with her anywhere where she is going, you know. Because sometimes I am thinking if I rely on my husband– because he died 21 years ago– thought how can I manage after that because I can carry on little bit after he died. That time we have taxi business doing the taxi. Then afterwards then you thinking yes I can do it then.

I: And you knew even then that your home was now here?

J: Ya, that time my young son is six years old and eldest one go to do the GCSE, that’s it. Then afterwards I have a very hard time here as well. I do the job since I came here then afterwards you know the– that’s the very low part for me when my husband died– then after a year then I set up again, that time I rely on my both sons.

I: With your boys, do they go back with you each year?

J: Ya, not each year. When they have a holiday they can go. Eldest one married now. I have two grandsons then that girl from India as well. She love to go back to India. Young one not married yet. But my both boys like go back home. You know, they visit, see everything, some belonging thing over there for them as well, ya, they both love to go.

I: And do they see the same kind of…

J: Not same kind of feeling, no, no.

G: Because they born here. That’s why.

J: You know one day my grandson says, because my sister live in London, my eldest son live near my sister then one day my grandson says, “Mum, when you go to India then can I go with you?” I say why. He say because aunty’s, that’s my sister, aunty’s dad died over there so I want to go to aunty’s dad’s grave and put the candle on. I say your aunty’s father my father too. “Oh, that’s alright then,” he says, “then that’s your side as well.” Because they have no feeling. When they just says, when children go to school they can look when they talk to each other like I go to my grandfather’s grave or something like that, then he just talking about like that, when we go back I can put candle on my aunty’s father’s grave, you know, then people have [no these].

I: Can they speak both languages?

J: They speak both languages, ya. Very good. My grandson– one is about 11 years old, one is six. They both speak very fluent both languages, English and Punjabi, ya.

Crossing Borders was an arts project made possible by funding from the West Midlands Museum Development Small Grant Scheme 2017.  Find out more about the project here.

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