RS, 23, talks about his experiences growing up in an
English-speaking, Christian household.
In his interview, he also talks about his grandparents’ memories of
troubled Sri Lanka…
‘Well my grandparents, they’ve told me for a few years about their stories
and accounts but I was more interested later on so I asked them a lot more.
And so like some of my extended family had to flee a house because the
Sinhalese mob, which was sponsored by the Government, burnt down their
houses and that street, and a mob came to the house that my family would
normally stay in…So our family were very much involved in this.
And so my grandparents have stories of the riots and friends and stuff…
Thinking about it, it was really these atrocities that really kind of made
me really think about my identity.’
…his experiences performing classical music …
‘I wanted to do music, I really did and I was very good. I could’ve done music
but I didn’t. I decided it wasn’t a career for me, not because of ability but
more the opportunities available, kind of the fact that it’s very hard to make
a name for yourself and I would only be interested in performing and you
have to be both very good but also have lots of contacts – and like a dream,
the dream I seriously considered was becoming a musician. And that’s not a
very Asian dream, like I’m very aware and I was very aware when I was
growing up that, like, I would take part regularly in music competitions and
obviously be the only Sri Lankan Tamil there for every concert I took part in.
So you’d see the concert list and really that was one of the things that really
kind of, although at that time I still wasn’t really seeing myself as Tamil,
I was just let’s say fully aware that there would never be anyone else that
wasn’t white there. So that was quite interesting.’
…and his changing sense of identity…
‘…Before I would overwhelmingly say I was British and nothing else.
Until very recently I was British and I would say I am originally from
Sri Lanka but that’s all, whereas now I would say I’m British Sri Lankan
now or I’m British Tamil. I don’t really say, associate myself with Sri Lanka,
I associate myself with Tamils. So I would say I’m from Sri Lanka but what
I really mean and how I view myself is a British Tamil kind of thing.
Although I’m sure I still feel a bit uncomfortable saying British Tamil
because I still feel that I don’t know that much about my culture…’