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Avoiding important conversations by sweeping them under the rug is the status quo in the Indo-Fijian community, though author Rajni Mala Khelawan breaks the stereotype. We had an honest conversation about abuse and gender roles and she opened up about her journey of reclaiming her heritage. Her perspective is unique and true to her journey.

While we can easily scoff at our elders for sweeping things under the rug, we need to remember that they too have been conditioned. They also may have their frustrations with societal norms, they just weren’t given a chance to express their feelings, hence why sweeping things under the rug became their defense mechanism of sorts.

There’s a new trend these days: taking part in ‘Victim Olympics’ or using generational trauma as a trophy competition. The focus placed on this trend makes us forget how to adequately address issues without glossing over them and without gaslighting each other.

Our conversation also made me check my own personal privilege – the privilege of having good men in my life, I realize I take this for granted and found myself wondering, how do we raise good men? Will raising ‘good men’ alleviate the abuse faced by so many women?

About Rajni Mala Khelawan

Rajni Mala Khelawan is an Indo-Fijian Canadian writer and researcher. She has given numerous inspirational speeches and public readings in Canada and in the Fiji Islands. In addition to being a visiting writer at the University of South Pacific, Fiji Islands in 2011, Khelawan was profiled on hit TV and radio shows such as Bollywood Boulevard, CBC Radio, Omni News, NUTV, and Asian Magazine TV. She was the Writer-in-Residence at Fiji National University in 2014. Her short story “Bucket of Cherries” was a winning entry for New Asian Writing Journal; and “Still Standing” was published in The Voice Magazine. Khelawan’s two novels are Kalyana (2016) and The End of the Dark and Stormy Night  (2008). Her third novel In the Shade of a Bougainvillea Hedge is forthcoming. Khelawan holds a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded research entitled “Gender and Ritual among Fijian Hindu Women” studied gender and Hinduism among descendents of indentured Indians. Khelawan’s areas of academic research includes South Asian religions; indentured history and colonization; and transnational and diaspora studies. Currently, she lives in Toronto, Ontario, and is working on completing her fourth novel Across the Black Water under the Canada Council for the Arts grant.

Favorite Movies: Water by Deepa Mehta; Namesake by Mira Nair; The World Before Her (Documentary) by Nisha Pahuja; Brick Lane by Sarah Gavron; Sin Nombre by Cari Joji Fukunaga; and Parched by Leena Yadav.

Favorite Books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; Interpreter of Maladies & Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; Carrie and Misery by Stephen King; Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews; Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai; Brother by David Chariandy; Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones; A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry; Everything was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran; Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda; The Parcel by Anosh Irani; The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo; The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini; The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill; Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy; Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi; and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.

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My name is Rajan Nazran Chief Explorer for the Global Indian Series, the official platform for people of Indian origin (PIO) and liberal minds, because let’s face it, we are everywhere!

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Episode: 158

Presenter – Aaisha Khan – Global Indian Series Oceania edition

Producer –Global Indian Series/NazranRoth

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