Kanwer Singh Mahl AKA Humble the Poet is a Canadian spoken word artist, rapper and YouTube personality who is known for his thought-provoking, socially and politically inspired lyrics. He used to be an elementary school teacher who turned creative and he's also a designer, filmmaker and creative consultant. With a 179 thousand subscribers on YoutTube, the rapper often calls out racism and homophobia in his music videos.
The rapper's life in Toronto has been an inspiration in his work and he speaks fondly of the city, “It’s one of the most diverse places on the planet. You don’t realise how beautiful and mixed the city is until you go to other places. I had friends from all walks of life and different socio-economic backgrounds, who spoke different languages. I had friends working at restaurants to help pay their parents’s mortgage, and friends whose parents took care of everything and they got to choose what car they want to drive to school.”
He has released a few self help books like Things no one can teach us, Improving your self-worth through love and Unlearn: 101 truths for a better life all under the themes of self development and emotional wellbeing. His latest book, How to be love(d) dives deeper into understanding the self and healing or in his words, "Simple Truths for Going Easier on Yourself, Embracing Imperfection & Loving Your Way to a Better Life."
With short chapters filled with insight, advice, and personal anecdotes from Humble’s own journey, this book is a guide to self-love that helps clarify your path inward toward the inherent love and value that is within each of us. In a recent Instagram post the author wrote about his relationship with his mother and the ways love is expressed in a South Asian family which you can read below.
It's true. Love in Desi families isn't as pronounced as it may be in other cultures. More often than not simple, direct ways of showing love are what reach us emotionally and since that doesn't really exist in Indian households it's easy to believe that we're not loved. A majority of us have parents who love us 'in their own way' and not necessarily the way we need to be loved. So there's a distance that inhibits intimacy as the rest of the world understands it.
There's also the cultural influence of oppressive systems that adulterate that love and put conditions on it. It is only granted if you're a a good son or daughter and an upstanding member of society who is academically brilliant, morally sound and incorruptible by alcohol, drugs, sex and 'western culture'. The degree of orthodoxy changes from region to region but if you live in India some form of It surely pervades your family ethos.
The mother-daughter relationship is another wreck that is tainted by patriarchy. Poets and songwriters have written about the turbulent relationship of a mother and daughter throughout time. Controlling mothers forever change their daughters' perception of love and it takes decades sometimes for them to even see it as love. Its the classic case of 'Just because you say you love me doesn't mean I feel loved'.
Whatever twisted form our parents' love takes, it's still there. As we grow up and live on it's revealed to us bit by bit how the thing they did that seemed cold was indeed love. Just for caution, it's not true for everyone. There are toxic and abusive families that manipulate in the name of love. And the kids operating with the same learned equation grow up and are left wondering why their relationships are failing. That takes a whole other dimension of healing, if it's even identified as a problem.
So much of what we do in linked to how we were loved. We're all out here chasing desires and ambitions that rose out of our need for something that possibly wasn't given to us in our childhood. But even if one understands all of this, nothing changes until they decide to choose and cultivate that love themselves.
Humble the Poet's How to be love(d) is a collection of all these stories about love coloured in the very unique Brown experience. It's a guide and reminder to reprogram ourselves and start loving ourselves the way we wish we had.