“I would have to immerse myself in the weird world of European racism…and wasn’t sure I would be able to stomach it.”
– Andrea Levy, 2010 (on research for The Long Song)
Pish-Pash evolved in response to conducting archival research, which showed Anglo-Indians as airbrushed from history or negatively portrayed. Feeding is the metaphor used for the familiar, unsatisfying, and sometimes sickening process where I felt starved of texts that did not regurgitate traditional narratives and instead swallowed data that was bitter. Pish-Pash is an Anglo-Indian rice dish, like porridge, that can be eaten as comfort food after it has been made digestible by being cooked for a long time.
The food is chewed with mouth closed and the ingesting process is hidden from view. This reflects my upbringing with regard to “table manners”. It also references the behaviour modelled by elders in my family and in the Anglo-Indian community in 1960s South West London which emphasised assimilation and stoicism, at least in front of the children. By exploring the process of swallowing and surviving toxic input, I am also reviewing times when it felt best to keep my mouth shut and head down, either because it was dangerous not to, or because no words for how to respond would come. Through portraying a tongue tied, head down moment, PishPash paradoxically “speaks” about the experience of feeling silenced, vulnerable, or inarticulate.
Made in collaboration with Samina Bukhari.https://www.facebook.com/samina.bukhari.336