What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian
- About the Editors
A celebration of the slippages, strife and secret histories that make us—for better or worse—who we are.
A woman faces off against a xenophobic stranger across a supermarket turnstile.
A young girl mistakes her first period for strawberry yoghurt and endures an embarrassing puberty ceremony.
At the funeral of her cruel and prejudiced dadhi, a granddaughter reflects on the confusions of grief and the trauma passed through family lines.
A follow-up to the best-selling anthology Growing Up Perempuan (AWARE, 2018), What We Inherit tells the stories of Indian women (and a few men) in Singapore entirely in their own words. They question the expectations foisted upon them, discover new avenues into old traditions and carve out spaces for joy amid anger and sorrow. At a time when the bonds between us seem at constant risk of breaking, What We Inherit turns our attention towards community in all its complexities. It’s a reminder of how we honour, betray and ultimately bear witness to each other… and ourselves.
Featuring contributions by:
- Akshita Nanda
- Balli Kaur Jaswal
- Constance Singam
- Kelly Kaur
- Mandakini Arora
- Matilda Gabrielpillai
- Pooja Nansi
- Prasanthi Ram
- Ranjana Raghunathan
- Sharul Channa
… and more
“What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian is a timely, relevant and deeply meaningful collection of personal essays, stories and reflections. This beautifully conceived and curated anthology is packed with voices of despair and hope, struggle and freedom, shame and pride. Each contributor shares with the reader their truth, their history, their vulnerability. How specific their stories are, yet how profoundly they resonate. The stories in What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian should enter every home and every school in Singapore, for they deserve a place in our hearts.”
— Haresh Sharma, Resident Playwright (The Necessary Stage)
“The wide-ranging voices in this collection—some funny, others heartbreaking—illuminate topics such as the body, dancing, rituals, fandom and sisterhood. This is a book to gift to those (including ourselves) still catching up with Singapore’s dazzling diversity, with the dedication: start here.”
— Alfian Sa’at, poet & playwright
“Brimming with nuanced reflexivity, vivacious sparkle, and ultimately, resilient joy, What We Inherit: Growing Up Indian is an essential read, regardless of race.”
— Amanda Lee Koe, author of Ministry of Moral Panic
“At once intimate and wide-ranging, What We Inherit is a rich portrayal of the histories and lives of Indian women in Singapore. This is an essential read for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of Singapore and Southeast Asia.”
— Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
“This anthology is a work of advocacy grounded in intersectional feminism, a project committed to the integrity of the collective and the individual. The effort is ground-breaking, simply but powerfully, in its intent to surface Indian women’s stories in “fullness” and “on their own terms”. Here a diasporic context appears as a critical site for interrogating received legacies, constructing new subjectivities and forging fresh solidarities. Women from Singapore’s minority Indian community share their everyday lived experiences in essays crafted in a free-spirited mode. They speak in varied, contradictory voices, marking the text with unevenness, asymmetry, intrigue and poignancy. The writers appear as empowered historical actors who narrate their biographical journeys and institutional struggles with immense courage, challenging uncomfortable truths about inherited traditions and chauvinisms. The candid and moving vignettes reveal that moments of crisis also carry seeds of inspiration, enabling women to rebuild their lives anew, while pushing boundaries of societal expectations. Above all, I see this anthology as a safe space where Indian women’s voices are heard without rebuke, and their experiences articulated with dignity.”
— Professor Vineeta Sinha, Department of Sociology (National University of Singapore)
“To see a snippet of life through these writers’ eyes is to hold space for a multitude of experiences, both unique and relatable. I laughed, I cried, I learnt and I found strength. Each entry encourages us to challenge the systems we have all inherited. Patriarchal, colonial and intergenerational history is acknowledged but also the seeds of how we may negotiate and imagine better worlds. I had to stop often and question my own submission and complicity in these systems.
I am also particularly grateful for the mixed-race and queer experiences recorded — I have never before seen these identities sitting on the same page with Indianness in Singapore. It made me feel affirmed and less alone, and I believe any reader will be the better for this crucial book.”
— Jennifer Anne Champion, poet & literary arts educator
Shailey Hingorani is AWARE’s Head of Advocacy, Research and Communications. She has spent the last 13 years working on human rights issues in the United States, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Varsha Sivaram is a Senior Projects Executive in AWARE’s Advocacy, Research and Communications department. They are passionate about literature and advocacy.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 320
Year Published: 2022
Size: 127mm x 203mm