Jillian Haslam
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Inside the Book

The different chapters dealing with the adversity of Jillian Haslam’s life as well as her recovery from triumph have made the book, Indian.English, an inspiration for many. Her book acts a motivational force that can improve an individual’s life.

Below are excerpts from various sections of Indian.English., the poignant new memoir by Jillian Haslam :


Outcasts, non-castes, castaways—whatever you like, we were like ghosts. We were either visible but non-existent, or existent but invisible
– Chapter 1


One of us in particular was the unwitting and unfortunate catalyst of a protracted series of dire events that haunts all of us to this day. The sacrificial lamb was my beautiful sister, Donna
– Chapter 4


Not only that trauma, but also the trauma of having to bury their own children in large tea chests because they couldn’t afford coffins
– Chapter 4


We had barely escaped with our lives and nothing else, very much like the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, except in India. However, unlike them, we were totally poverty-stricken, our very existence was in danger and the country was harsh and unforgiving
– Chapter 5

Under the steps (our home) was just terrible. With a space no bigger than a narrow four-seat dining table, our new home was dark, full of water from holes in the ground, slime, mildew and crawling with vermin
– Chapter 6


Regardless, she started to lock me in the toilet—her Indian-styled toilet: half the size of a phone booth, filthy, cramped, and a smell I cannot describe. She would first show me that the dark, ugly, chamber of misery was infested with huge, flying cockroaches, hundreds of them
– Chapter 7


What can I say? It was worse than terrible. Having no money, most often no power at all, and being racially abused all at the same time was just something else. I’m really not sure how we survived it, but this little room was home to us
– Chapter 8



Deliriously waiting for the water to subside, there she sat, baby in arms, with my father at her side, all the while for days praying that the rain would stop and that the little room would not fill-up any more
– Chapter 8


I remember Neil, a 2 year old with such a cute face standing there, totally unaware that his little sister was dying. He couldn’t stop staring at her and touching her terribly thin fingers and not wanting to stop kissing her
– Chapter 9


During that very sad and depressing time, living in a cramped dingy house and waiting for the moment of death to arrive is beyond imagination
– Chapter 9


When we were little, we were continuously called names like sada chua (white rat), sada murghi (white chicken), sada goo (white shit), sada tilchate (white cockroach), dasi mughi (foreign chicken), and many more
– Chapter 10

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Jill's family photos