Cadesan – Not of this Land

A fragmented whole.

Story by
Harjot Ghuman-Matharu
May 1, 2020

Our ideas are cultivated.
Nurtured and fed opinion and facts.
Sifting through an overload of information,
to have them grow into values
and doctrine that outline our mind.

Our ideas are a bubble.
Heavy and swollen with emotion.
Just waiting to be pricked, prodded,
ruptured by the new.

My name is Jot,
these are my Jot Notes.

Ideas and musings,
formed and expensed from my brain.
It is not quite a stream of consciousness,
it is a reflection of me.

A fragmented whole.

Reflecting on identity
and the connection to community
that projects back on my self-expression.

Not of this land.
Doesn’t quite belong.

The first time I was called that by my Beji,


I thought she was calling me Canadian.
The tone, heavy with taunt and disappointment.
An accusation more than a label.
In my head I thought
“of course I am, I’m from here.”
I could never say that aloud.
The one time I did, it made my mother sob with sadness.


I was raised with both feet
planted firmly in Mississauga,
my family watching it evolve
from farmland to busy city.
They may have rooted themselves
in the true north strong and free
but the soil around me that nourished me
was Punjabi.


I had another brown skinned woman
ask me where I was from back home.
I stumbled over the question in my mind.
I had never considered where my parents came from as my home.

It is my heritage,
my reference point on the world,
a page in my personal history.
But home was on Wallenberg Crescent,
in the shadow of the CN Tower,
along the 400 series highways.

Home is the community I have roots in,
activate and embed my voice within.
It is not where I am a tourist,
it is where I root and grow.


I exist in this parallel universe at times,
within the same city as millions
and on the same streets
but our worlds are apart.
I exist among subcultures and counter-movements
connected together, creating and consuming on our own terms.

Goreyan D DeshA ch’ LagDEEYan Teeyan.

[women celebrate on white man’s land]

The sisters celebrate on white man’s land.
Seeing my folk singing mother on stage
illuminated by her love for Punjabiath.
Performing in defiance to family wishes
and heaping art, literature, music, culture into my life.
What a priviliege.
A gift.

Kithe Gayan Ma Ni Sade Hise Deeyan Loriyah?

[Where did our share of lullabies go, mother?]

Performing a feminist narrative of lament on stage as a child,
before I really got to sink into what it was to be a brown woman.
Playacting as a mother,
enforcing patriarchy on my daughters
who only just want their share of love.

Rishteyan Da Ki Rakhiye Naam?

[What shall we call these relationships?]

What shall we call these relationships?
Dancing folk on stages of community theatres,
to crowds of my people
searching and aching for stories that reflected their truths.


the sangat,
the company we keep,
is the lifeline we hold on to
from sinking into assimilation.
Somehow, feeling more an individual within the collective.

Power and perspective.

Understanding that my identity was nuanced, interwoven.
Our tribes of like-minded souls
that connect intrinsically
on how we want to be defined.
Many of us overlapped between communities that

meld and conflict.

Digging our heels into the ground around us
while reaching over oceans and expanses
clawing at familiarity to sink into.
Stretched and pulled and connected and thriving.