Deepa

Listen to Deepa's story as part of The Making of Black Britain oral history project

By The Making of Black Britain

Deepa, aged 7 (1980)The Making of Black Britain

Deepa is Shanti’s daughter. She is of Indian heritage and was born in Britain. She is bilingual, having first learned English at school and Gujarati at home. Growing up, Deepa lived with three generations of her family.

Deepa was interviewed for The Making of Black Britain on 4th August 2021

Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa talks about languages and being bilingual
00:00

We want to hang on to our culture and traditions.

And it's only when I went to school and nursery, that's when I started picking up English. And because all the other children are still learning to speak. And, you know, sort of developing themselves. It just kind of occurred naturally. I didn't feel different. It was just that I spoke two languages.

Deepa and her family in Italy, 2003, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa in India, 2019, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa discusses growing up in her family
00:00

We never had dinner with my Dad.

All the other children went on holidays, or they did activities on, you know, half term and things. And we never had that. So that was a big thing. That you know, “What have you done this summer?” and we had only gone to the park or played in the garden, we had nothing to describe. So that was a big thing.

Deepa at Richmond Park, 2000, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa talks about her dad
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It's inspiring that my Dad was such a hard worker.

I feel that I don't want to be sitting idle, and I should be putting in that graft. And even if it's doing a different job in a different career path, I'm doing it just because I shouldn't be sitting around. So it doesn't matter what the work is. Just get on with it.

Shanti and Deepa in London, 2021, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa talks about her faith
00:00

We grew up with a strong sense of faith in our home.

We were never taught to do it or told to do it, but we just did it. And it just became part of our daily routine. Like you brush your teeth, you pray, you shower every morning. It's not discussed. It's just done. 

Bhimjiani family photo, 2014, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa (far left), with her parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece.

Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa talks about her heritage
00:00

So this feels more 'at home' than anywhere else.

Their survival instinct kicked in, they didn't think about what they had to leave. They had homes, they had valuables, they had bank accounts, they had everything. And their initial thought process was “we have to survive.” So, if that means not being able to take anything, so be it, but everybody else was on the same journey. So it wasn't that they were targeted specifically, it was the whole community. 

Deepa in Italy, 2003, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Deepa, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Deepa discusses identity and race
00:00

I was quite sheltered.

I don't think I was aware of it. I knew I had a different colour, but it didn't really factor into everyday matters. So my perspective was that I was the same as everybody else. If you put us in a line of people, yes, I stood out. But I wasn't ever made aware of that fact, it was never pointed out. 

Deepa talks about her influences
00:00

It's important to be wary of what my influences are.

I think what you focus on tends to happen. And I was lucky that I wasn't impacted in my childhood, so much, about racism. But also, I studied law, by the way, so that teaches you a lot about what your environment is, and how you want to control it.

Deepa at home with her parents, Hatfield, 2018, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Now listen to Deepa's father Shanti tell his story for The Making of Black Britain.

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