When Latika Bourke was growing up she was fiercely Australian, so much so that if anyone dared ask her where she was from she was incensed, shrugging off their question and changing the subject. It was not until the right catalyst was provided that she made a huge effort to discover her roots and finally be able to happily say,’ I am Australian, but I am also Indian’!
According to Latika she was Aussie, through and through; regardless of the fact she had been born in Birhar, India and adopted to an Australian family at the age of eight months. Two of her brothers and sisters in the eight child family were also from India; her brother Damien also from Birhar and her sister Rani from Chennai.
As she has ‘chocolate’ skin tones and dark hair, toning’s far removed from her parents English and Australian complexion, it was fairly obvious she was not born of Australian parents. As she had always been aware of the fact she had been adopted and the reasons why, this never troubled her. She simply had no interest in her Indian heritage.
It took a dinner date that ended watching a DVD of the movie Slumdog Millionaire, a movie she had consistently refused to watch, that finally made her begin to be a little less hostile about her country of birth; to want to know more and perhaps, go back to the place of her birth and see firsthand, the place of her birth.
Several years on from this small turning point Latika and her partner made the decision to travel to India on a journey of discovery, facing the challenges of travel in a country which she knew little about other than what a small amount of research divulged. She knew full well that by going to India, it was going to be confrontational, very emotional and this terrified her.
What followed on from this decision finally gave her the space, the place and the information to be able to say, I am Australian, but I am also Indian. To be able to find peace within herself and to add some of the dots in her life to questions she had occasionally pondered.
In telling her story she allows us into the world of a child who has been adopted into another culture and the journey to discover her roots; to be able to know and acknowledge the reasons for the adoption and to see firsthand the gift she was offered. This gift allowed her to be able to grow into the woman she is today. Should adoption not have been made available her past, present and future would have been so terribly different.
Beautifully told, we are richer for being allowed to join her in her very personal journey of self-discovery.
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin|