Jasmeen Karan

Jasmeen Karan is a 33-year native of the Bay Area and was born and raised in San Mateo, California. The daughter of first-generation Indo-Fijian immigrants, (Asian and Pacific Islanders), Jasmeen is the descendant of indentured laborers from the Fiji Islands. A first-generation college graduate, she earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) from California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) and a Master of Health Administration (MHA) from University of Southern California (USC). She is also a volunteer advocate with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Jasmeen Karan writes creative poetry, gaining inspiration from personal experiences and life events. At the age of six (6), Jasmeen won third place in the Martin Luther King Jr. Essay, Poetry, and Art contest. She hasn’t stopped since and is excited to share her poetry with the world!

Poem on Belonging

BLUNT SURPRISE

Second-generation immigrant,
I must concurrently,
Balance two cultures,
Speak “Fiji-Hindi”, fluently.

American and Indo-Fijian,
Poet and professional,
A daughter and caregiver,
In a nutshell.

Funny to see reactions,
When strangers look at me.
I’m not usually,
Who they expect me to be.

They assume I’m uneducated,
And underestimate me.
Think I’ll have an accent,
So ignorantly.

But I’m beauty and brains,
Brown and bold,
Book- and street-smart,
With a heart of gold.

A blunt surprise,
Few get to see…
I proceed with caution,
Selectively.

Betrayal from friends,
Family and colleagues.
So, I built a wall,
Fifty feet around me.

Some say I’m “too young”,
To be a caregiver.
They think they know my life,
But, I share drops of a river.

Keep to myself,
Miss Mom, the old days…
Wondering why none help,
But have so much to say?

I’ve endured a lot,
Lost many I loved.
Remember in silence,
Trust the one above.

Generations of trauma,
So much tragedy.
Ancestors in Fiji,
Were victims of slavery.

Brought on ships from India,
Illiterate and poor.
Exploited, assaulted,
So much more…

Their sacrifices, I know,
I must forge ahead.
“Leave a mark”,
Is what Mom said.

Respect yourself,
The family name.
Always show up,
Through the pain.

Most will talk,
They don’t see,
The sacrifices,
The full journey.

But I handle things,
Effortlessly.
Trust my instincts,
Like a “G”.

Honor the fallen,
The ancestors.
True to my roots,
Humble in character.

Win some, lose some,
Life goes on.
Day in, day out,
I carry on.

Head up,
With courage and grace.
None like me,
In time and space.

Toughest soldiers,
Get toughest battles.
I’m built for it,
I can herd the cattle.

I change my perspective,
When handed tests.
Reprogram my mind,
God handles the rest.

A blunt surprise,
Most doubt me.
I prevail, though,
Because Bibi taught me.

Copyright © 2022 by Jasmeen Karan. Used with permission of the author.