Family and villagers had gathered in the village square. My aunt explained that the house was empty so I could complete the last ritual. Three crows sat on the outer wall. It was quiet.
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Standing alone in the courtyard, as I was about to whisper the words, I stumbled. This place, seemingly at the edge of the world, had been an important nexus between India and the west for my family for more than a century; first, for my great-grandfather, who emigrated to the US in the early s; then for my grandfather, who left for England; and finally, for my father. I was up against the multiple legacies of my ancestors, who had gone abroad and returned to die here.
I reminded myself of my other life. I was in a same-sex relationship, and the fact that my partner was a Muslim American whose parents were born in Pakistan meant the Indian authorities would not readily give him a visa. I began to close the bedroom doors, the wooden doors with rusted nails, unsure as to how and when I would ever return. O ur house in Khanpur was built in two phases. The older part, a red brick tower with arched windows and stained glass built in the early s, was designed with specific purposes: to showcase the family wealth, to place the men of the house so high that others would need to look up, and to encase the women of the house so they could gaze out but not be seen.
Growing up, I heard stories about its construction: how the brick had come from Multan, the peacock murals from Amritsar, and the stained glass from Delhi. Most importantly, the money was sent from some rural farm in Yuba City, California, where my great-grandfather, Puran Singh, worked as a peach farmer. He was among the first south Asians to set foot on American soil in the early s. As our house was constructed, people travelled on foot from nearby towns and villages to marvel not only at the building but at the abundance and opportunities a brush with the US could bring.
For a long time, our house was known as Amerika-wallan da Kar , the house of the Americans.
Just as the dollar-funded tower was tall, the sterling-funded house was sprawling, as if my grandfather were saying to his father: You built high, now I will build long. Soon our house became England-wallan da Kar , the house of the English. I was six years old when I first came to Khanpur, in Faced with old age and early dementia, Bawa Singh had asked my father to take him back to India.
I remember walking into the courtyard and meeting a woman who was sitting cross-legged, cleaning her glasses with the ends of her dupatta. She was my step-grandmother, and this was the first I learned of her existence. A short, fierce woman, she married into the family in the s. She bore no children, and was left behind after the rest of the family emigrated to England. During our seven-year stay in India, we attended a boarding school several hours away from Khanpur. When we returned for summer holidays, Mataji would stand at the doorstep of the house, ready to pour a few drops of mustard oil by our feet to ward off evil spirits, welcoming us as if we had returned from a long exile.
This role, of waiting and welcoming, was familiar to her. The story of this house and of Punjab, she would say, is not about the men who left but the women who stayed behind. Through those long years as the sole occupant of the house, night after night, she was the one who lit the oil lamps and left them by the door. She would climb the tower every day and gaze out of the stained-glass windows, updating her mental map of the village.
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She built a wide network of patronage, slotting each person into their deserved role. As a child, I had this sense that the world was fractured. Every day, people showed up at our front door with their troubles. This desperation, which unfolded on our doorstep, was often met with benevolence, but was never to be mistaken for intimacy or trust.
We were not them, and they could never be us. I could play with the children of the village, but I was prohibited from eating with them, from drinking milk from their cows, from ever talking about my family. And they were never allowed into our courtyard and bedrooms. M y father was 16 when he got on a plane to England, in , but no one came to receive him on the other side.
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He searched the airport for hours, looking for an uncle who should have been waiting at the terminal. Two pounds was all he had in his pocket — a customary amount that newcomers from the subcontinent carried. He also had the address of a distant relative who lived in London.
He followed the crowd out into the damp night and stood outside long enough to realise the black cars that came and went were taxis. He got into one and arrived at the only address he knew. When the door swung open, a Jamaican man asked my father his name, and informed him that the relative was at work and would return in the morning. My father waited. The next day, he sent a telegram to his parents, asking them to come and get him. An uncle eventually showed up. In a borrowed Morris , my father arrived a week later in Coventry, the town that supplied Jaguars to the world.
Dislocation of time, of place and language, experienced so acutely on arrival. To have waited and watched the quiet agony in the faces of arriving immigrants gaining a foothold in a strange land. To have told himself he was different: that it was ambition, and not desperation, that had compelled him to get on that plane.
After all, although he was a worker here, he was the son of a lord back home. England was not a place with which one fell in love instantly.
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Coventry, one of the English cities most bombed in the second world war, was still recovering. The terraced house on Coronation Road, where my father lived with his parents and two brothers, along with a roster of newly arrived immigrants, was shockingly underdeveloped.
There was no central heating in the house; a fireplace in the living room was the only source of heat. My father quickly realised that outer appearances mattered in achieving assimilation, so he cut his hair and dispensed with his turban. One day, at the age of 21, he came home to learn that his marriage had been arranged.
My mother would soon arrive from India. She was light-skinned and from an equal family. They had not met before. It was to be a marriage among migrants, a bet on two outsiders finding their own solace. Success meant full adaptation at every important milestone. Unable to find a venue willing to host his religious wedding ceremony, he picked a pub instead, clearing the smell of booze with incense and convincing a priest to bring the holy book to a bar. With the rise and fall of the British car industry — the golden age of the 60s, the slump of the late 70s — career trajectories changed.
There were promotions in our family. My father became a foreman, another uncle a supervisor, and there was movement within divisions from the assembly line to managerial work. My family emulated the three-tiered structure of British life: the home, the factory and the pub. These domains rarely overlapped — except on a warm July day in , when Charles and Diana got married. My father had the day off, and aunts and uncles came to our house to watch the wedding, wearing their finest clothes, as if they were invited. It was a rare day when we seemed to belong to the same reality as our English neighbours.
By the early 90s, he and his brother ran a grocery store. Because this was a family business, it became a family space, and I got to see my father interact with the rest of British society. It was mandatory for the children to spend a few hours in the store after school, stacking shelves, counting produce and ordering inventory.
It all seemed to be going well until one day, at the age of 13, I happened to be alone with my father at the store when a teenager kicked the door open. His name was Danny. He was a council estate kid who wore a gold chain around his neck. He scouted the lanes, picking up a few items here and there as my father tried to keep an eye on him; he had stolen before.
Danny placed two packets of Opal Fruits on the counter and waited for my father to ring him up. The two of them brawled outside the shop. I watched him fall to the ground and wished he would pick himself up, fast, before someone from my school saw him.
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Danny bolted in the direction of the estates. The chocolate had broken in two; it was damaged goods. He ate one piece and then he went to the back of the shop to fix his turban.
Soon the front door opened and we moved on to serving the next customer. We never once talked about the incident. We never spoke about race because we believed that class could erase our exclusion. He turned up for every national and local election. He signed my sister and me up for the Labour party, asking us to pay our dues because a day would come when we would need representation. He lauded the British for their industriousness, marvelled at how small they were in size as a country and how large an empire they had ruled.
They were the masters, and they had taught him that power itself was a value, worthy of respect, even if it was grudging. Surely this was ordinary interplay between real and imaginary homes, the kinds of conversations that took place in every immigrant household. Nearly all my uncles at some point considered returning to India, but none had followed through. I had expected my father to be similarly pragmatic. Fifty years after his first arrival, three months before he died, he was back at Heathrow airport, bidding farewell to England.
C oming out to my parents in Punjabi had proved nearly impossible. Resorting to English would make my sexuality feel like a western construct. When parts of myself were translated into different tongues, a wedge seemed to be driven through me. But duality was not unfamiliar to my father.
It had seeped into his parenting. He would moralise in Punjabi and transact in English. He was mostly concerned about India, that nothing would come in the way of its enduring pull. Acceptance was not immediate. For a short while my father thought my partner, Muneer, a law professor, had all the markings of a Muslim terrorist. An avid newspaper reader, he started saving specific types of articles. One such clipping traced the journey of a UK-born, Ivy League-educated Muslim man involved in a terrorist plot. I told my father I was sure of one thing: Muneer was not into blowing himself up.
A few months later he mentioned another story he had read, about a same-sex couple becoming parents. Toggle navigation. BTB - Much better than last season. Got more points already? Going to get an update up tonight or tomorrow. Not been on 17 much as was trying to get into 18 before 19 drops, however playing 18 is so hard work for me, there's so much more you have to do just to get to get anywhere with it and it felt like such an effort to do anything on it, I'm hoping 19 plays better and they sort out the UI, I do however like the dynamics bit.
Hopefully 19 is better than 18, I do have a career in mind for 19 if it plays well and better than 18 but back to this save and as I say there will be an update tonight or tomorrow at some point. Thanks for reading! So bit of a big update. I haven't been taking screenshots after every game up until now, however we started off well going unbeaten in the league until the break which saw us lose 3 in a row and derail out momentum.
After 23 games we sat second, 6 points behind leaders Lekhiwiya who we play in our penultimate game of the season. So the first of our remining 3 league games sees us at home to Al-Jaish. We have to win here to keep our hopes of back to back titles in tact. A win is what we got as we ran out comfortable winners. After this is an even bigger game against first place Lekhwiya, who lost their last game so we're now level on points. Lots of build up to this one. A game we dominated despite only managing the 1 goal.
This lifts us to first place now going into the last game of the season.