by Ely Percy
Content warning: racism and racial slurs
Ah hate Myspace an Bebo an aw that shite. Ah don’t dae bloggin an ah don’t dae Messenger an ah’m no wan ae these fannies that spends half thir life rearrangin the order ae thir stupit TOP SIXTEEN FRIENDS list.
Aw ma pals are pure obsessed wi social media, an yi cannae huv a conversation wi them these days withoot them mentionin thir OTHER HALF or thir HOW WELL DAE YI KNOW ME quizzes – an if yi ask me, it’s actually quite anti-social. Harpreet’s the worst culprit though: every time ah speak tae her, she’s either been writin her LiveJournal or daein somethin wi WIDGETS, whitever they are; or, if she’s no daein that, she’s readin sumdy else’s LiveJournal or SHARIN THE LUV wi some random on Bebo.
Ah got an email fae Harpreet the day. Her new address is: a bumble bee ate my maths jotter at over the rainbow dot com. Ah huvnae seen her since First Year, since she moved away tae Penrith, but we talk tae each other aw the time, an she keeps sendin me aw these links tae her video diary, which is maistly jist her tellin jokes aboot her life as a Scottish-Asian Sikh livin in England.
This mornin’s video wis different fae usual though.
She’d named it THE REAL SLIM SURI. At first ah thought it wis jist her clownin aroon, dressed up in a baseball top wi loadsa bling an a turban on her heid, but then the music come on an she startet daein her ain version ae ‘Cleanin Out Ma Closet’:
Have yi ever been hated or discriminated against?
Ah have, ah get ma accent mimicked daily an jokes made at ma expense
Girls an boys wi their bigoted minds talkin bull
Sikh’s a dirty word for the motherfuckin kids at ma school
What’s this commotion says the teacher as ma tears are explodin
Temper’s flarin inside me, but ah blow her off an say nothin
Cause nothin ever happens tae the bullies an the racists
Cept a crappy tellin off an a slap on the wrist …
Harpreet’s rap has gone viral. Evrubdy at school’s been talkin aboot it, includin aw the teachers, an even ma sister knows the full spiel. Thir wis a big group ae us fae the stairs – aw the wans that knew Harpreet fae First Year, includin Charlene an Kelly Marie – aw crowdet roon the library computer watchin it at interval, an nane ae us could believe that so many people had seen it. To be honest though, seef yi’d tolt me three year ago that Harpreet Kaur – wee shy Harpreet – who sat there an took evrubdy’s shite wid make a pure provocative music video aboot racism, ah’d a been like, Aye bolt ya rocket.
Of course, aw the wans the wur there had an opinion on it. She ought tae stick tae makin popadoms, said Kelly Marie, as soon as it wis finished. Harsh, said Charlene, Ah hink she’s got some baws pittin herself oot there lik that cause ah certainly widnae. Well it doesn’t even rhyme properly, said Nicola Buchanan. Yeah, said Heather Fisher, An her delivery’s terrible. It wis awright, said Chris Rice, But ah’ve seen better.
Ah thought it wis good. Ah thought it wis the best video she’d made so far. Fair enough, she coulda worked on the lyrics a bit mair, an she coulda maybe spoke slower an got a slightly better backin track, but overall, ah thought she’d done well. An ah thought it wis a nice touch that she’d pit the lyrics underneath in baith English an Punjabi.
Ower a hunner folk had left comments fur her: there wur a couple a nasty bastarts tellin her tae go back tae Paki-land, etcetera, etcetera, but maistly folk wur positive. Ah tried leavin a comment after evrubdy else had left, but yi had tae huv a profile an it took too long tae set it up, an then the bell went an Miss Thin chased me.
Ma da’s bought us a computer oota PC World. It’s fur me an Gremlin Features tae share. He seems tae think that this’ll help her settle doon an dae her schoolwork – ah don’t think so somehow though, cause aw Karen’s interestet in is chattin tae her pals an chattin up random boys, an probly she’d be wan ae these idiots that gets mixed up wi a paedo.
Wuv never had a computer at home, no unless yi count ma da’s antique Nintendo that’s been in a box somewhere fur years. At first ah though it wis gaunnae be cool tae get a real wan, cause maybe ah’d finally be able tae unnerstaun whit evrubdy at school wis talkin aboot aw the time – but naw. The thing arrived an it wis the maist basic budgeted computer ah’d ever seen: it had a pure auld-fashioned screen, an ah think ma da musta time travelt back tae the nineteen eighties tae get it. Ah thought at least ah’d be able tae watch Harpreet’s video again wioot Miss Skinny Pins breathin doon ma neck, but naw – it kept pausin every five fuckin seconds cause it turns oot the internet my parents got is pure pish, an plus, ah can only use it when ma ma’s no on the hoose phone.
Karen got an official puni the day cause when her class wur in the library, her an Carrie Anne Walker got caught tryin tae post a message on the Trinity High School webpage that said, FUCK THE POPE. Miss Thin says thir lucky the polis didnae get involved cause sendin malicious messages tae folk is a criminal offence. Ma ma an da wur pure ragin, an ma ma went on an on at some length aboot that fitba player that wis in the Paisley Express recently that got done fur callin another fitba player a fenian bastart on the internet.
Aw Karen could say in her defence wis, It wis jist a joke. Personally, ah think it wis aw blawn ootae proportion an thir wis a lot worst things she coulda been daein – plus, ah hate the pope, cause he’s a miserable homophobic auld bastart. Ma parents didnae see it that way though, so that’s her banned noo fae usin the new computer.
Harpreet’s video has been up less than a week an it’s got four hunner an twelve likes an three hunner an ten comments, an half ae the comments are fae folk she says she doesnae even know. Ah finally managed tae watch it aw the way through again, an ah’ve copied it ontae ma ain Bebo page. Ah’ve told aw ma pals that if anybody says anythin negative aboot it, then that’s them automatically aff ma pals list; ah fun oot yi can privatize yir page so folk cannae see what yir sayin, so ah’ve did that anaw because ah don’t want nosey bastarts knowin whit ah’m up tae. Ah’ve also made a Bebo page fur Gizmo an pit up pictures ae him. That wis Karen’s idea; ah thought it wis a bit weird at first, but folk seem tae be right intae it an noo the dog has mair internet pals than me.
Ah wis talkin tae Harpreet on the web cam an she wis pure pleased aboot how it’s aw gaun cause aw these strangers huv been sayin tae her online that she’s a pure inspiration an they wish they had the guts tae dae whit she did; noo she wants tae make another music video – an East meets West version ae ‘The Billy Boys’ song.
Ah dunno aboot that, ah tolt her, Ah think that’s takin it a bit far. It’ll be so funny, she said, Ah could wear an orange sash round ma head an a Rangers football top an put on a really strong Glaswegian accent. Ah said tae her, Ah jist don’t think it’s a good idea.
Ah don’t know whit it wis – ah wis right behind her on the bigotry front cause ah’d seen the way folk at school used tae treat her, an ah think she wis dead brave tae speak oot aboot it – but the idea ae her makin a video that took the piss oota white Scottish proddies (no matter how stupit an narra-mindet ah thought they wur as an organisation) jist didnae sit right wi me.
The day ah wis back in the library typin up ma history investigation, an ah wis still thinkin aboot it aw, thinkin aboot how maybe ah wis secretly a racist anaw on some level, when Charlene an Kelly Marie come runnin up. Huv yi seen it? shoutet Charlene. Seen whit? ah said. Yir wacky paki pal, said Kelly Marie, She’s fuckin done it this time. Who you callin a paki? ah said tae her. Kelly Marie jist ignort me. Check it oot, she said, then she shoved me oot the way so’s she could get tae the keyboard.
Harpreet’s new video had over a thousand comments, an less than ten percent ae them wur complimentary. Ah logged onto her video diary after ah got home an ah read the full fourteen pages ae abuse, anen ah endet up wishin ah hadnae.
Harpreet’s took her website doon. Ah tried tae talk her intae resurrectin it because maist ae her videos wur really funny an clever, an ah widnae know half the things aboot Sikh humour if ah hadnae watched them, but she widnae listen. She says she’s never gaun on the internet again except tae email me.
Ah tolt ma ma aboot it an she said, Maybe that’s the best idea hen, an then she banned ME fae gaun online fur the rest ae the week cause she said she wis fed up no bein able tae use the phone.
Chris Rice an Nicola Buchanan huv baith made thir ain music videos. Chris dressed up in his sister’s school uniform an a really bad wig an sang ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’, an it wis actually pretty hilarious. Nicola sang a Bette Midler song – ah’m honestly no sure if it wis meant as a piss take, but it’s the worst thing ah’ve ever seen on the internet.
Ely Percy’s first publication was a letter-cum-poem in Big! magazine in 1994. Since then, they’ve released a memoir, Cracked (JKP, 2002), graduated with distinction from Glasgow University’s MPhil in Creative Writing (2004), and contributed over fifty short stories to literary journals (e.g., New Writing Scotland, Scotsman Orange and Edinburgh Review). Percy’s debut novel, Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz, was published in March 2019 by Knight Errant Press. Their second novel, Duck Feet (Monstrous Regiment) is due for publication in March 2021. To find out more about Ely and their work, you can follow them on Twitter @decenthumanbean and/or visit their website: www.elypercy.com.