The South Asian community in a West London district known locally as Little India reflected on the history of the Commonwealth as Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a symbol of stability in a turbulent era that saw the decline of the British empire, died .
The Associated Press reports that many in Southall, the Queen’s death re-opened the old wounds of a complicated history.
“You feel your heart goes out to the family because she was a mother, she was a grandmother, and then beyond that, she was the queen of the country,” said Dalawar Majid Chaudhry, owner of a Pakistani restaurant in Southall.
However, Chaudhry added that many people in the community also had “mixed reactions” due to Britain’s colonial history.
Southall’s early South Asian immigrants left the subcontinent within a decade of the partition in 1947, arriving in London to work in factory assembly lines and as custodial crews at Heathrow Airport.
Wages were low and hours long.
Laborers coming from northern India in particular had lost land and savings through the mass dislocation that accompanied the partition of India.
This turbulent history, paired with the recent advent of social movements like Black Lives Matter, has led to an awakening among younger people seeking to dissect colonial legacies.