Living In Santorini

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Stella Chowdhury's parents are strict born Indians. Now that's all well and good till Stella gets diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Coming from a stigmatic background, mental health is a topic rarely discussed in the Chowdhury household. Join Stella on a road to self acceptance and discovery as she navigates through cultural stigmas.

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I had always believed that the world was the same for everyone. Oceans and mountains, deserts and slums, everyone knew they existed. Everyone knew about the sky, and they knew about rain. The world was perceived the same, no matter the distance.

As time progressed and my education evolved from limited to limitless and in the blink of an eye, everyone seemed to be so different. People perceived the world in various ways, my sun wasn’t everyone’s sun, my sun was someones God. My mountains weren’t everyones mountains, my mountains were someone’s sacred land.

I remember the first time I learnt about racism, I was nine and at my local supermarket waiting for my mum to fill in our cart. We were at a dodgy part of town and at an unknown market, we couldn’t afford to go to name brands. A lady walked past us, her frizzy hair shapely curtained her face and stopped right before they touched the nape of her neck. To me, she was an ordinary woman going about her day, shopping at a cheap store in the same dodgy town I lived in, we weren’t different. That day I realised, she was ordinary to me, but to some she was a thief. To some, the colour of her skin made her criminal. The way her hair shaped her face was seen with ruthless disgust.

I asked my mum questions about the world, and why this lady was treated differently, she gave me a weak smile and said, ‘The world isn’t perfect, the world isn’t fair, people like us need to stick together and accept the reality’. My nine year old head couldn’t envelope the concept of racism, ‘what do you mean ma? People like us? Isn’t everyone like us?’

My parents migrated from the capital of India to The UK. Two years later I was born, Stella Chowdhury. My parents sat me down one day and told me I was lucky, they told me I’d have countless opportunities in the land of the free because my skin was paler than snow. They said I’d have it better than them, I’d be freer and I’d be accepted and nothing would stand in my way.

I couldn’t phrase my thoughts properly back then, but the concept of everyone having different realities stuck with me. My reality wasn’t everyone else’s, realities are relative.

Later on in life I explored this idea further, I experienced it. It wasn’t just in matters of race, I felt it following me around every step of my life. From forming opinions to education, monetary matters and religious beliefs. Everyone looked at the world with different coloured tints.

I arrived at a point in my life where this concept stung me, I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to have a different reality than the majority. Maybe it was the internal-racism that encouraged this feeling, maybe it was the fear of being treated differently. But we don’t get to choose our realities most of the time, we’re stuck with one thing forever. We’re stuck with ourselves forever.

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