From the day I was born, you were the first sight I saw. My first steps were in your soil. I spent a month memorizing your national anthem. Recited it with pride amongst my peers in second grade.
Ever year, I celebrated the Republic Day and Independence Day. Watched all of Gandhi’s movies and a few of Bhagat Singh’s. Learnt of our rich history of the Mughal Empire and the Maurya dynasty.
I visited temples and villages, beaming with pride for the nation I belong to. I walked the marble stones of the Taj Mahal and wondered about the great minds of our ancestors.
On meeting people from another country, I’d tell them with pride, there are 28 states in my country. We may not be economically strong, but we are strong, culturally. We have so many kinds of people, all so beautiful, so many distinct dances and festivals, we are a close knit family.
I wrote articles about you hoping people would read and get a taste of Incredible India.
But even though I love you still, today I must say goodbye to you. Though my passport is Indian, though my birth certificate claims I’m Indian, and though I’ve lived in these soils all my life, I am not Indian.
To be considered part of a family, you must be accepted by the members of the family. And today, clearer than ever, we have been shown that we are not. Though the country talks of progress, broad minds and acceptance, everyone from street vendors to employees in the biggest MNC’s, a small part of your heart will always discriminate.
The saddest part is what you discriminate upon – our looks. How many times have we read and recited the words, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” well DEAR INDIA, that’s what you do everyday.
I wear a sari to work with a patriotic feeling, tugging the ends with difficulty, and all along the way, I hear chants of ‘Chinese model, Chinese model’. I hang out with my friends in a Chinese restaurant, I’ve known them for months, explained to them that I am FROM the country, but half of the conversation goes like, “this is Kimi’s restaurant, order anything you want….” At outings I get introduced as the Chinese friend. In trains I am referred to as “that Nepali”.
In every city, every town, this is what we go through everyday. We have looked by, hoping and thinking, they will understand and learn of us someday. But such a thing as death, for someone of such a young an age as 20 for reasons relating to his hairstyle, is not something that can be looked by.
Well, I have just one question for you India, are you ashamed of us? Do your rather wish we were foreigners of another country then one of your own land. Even after knowing we are your fellow citizens, why does your taunting never stop?
And what is so wrong in our face? Our eyes are a little small, we are a little fairer, we like experimenting with our hairstyles, does that make us any less a part of India? Or, would you like us all to go through plastic surgeries making our eyes bigger, changing our features, and having oil-slick hairstyles to be deemed citizens of the country?
Are you ashamed that we are of the “scheduled tribe” section of the country? Because in a land where caste says everything, it wouldn’t be surprising. But, just so you know, though we may not have many railroads, looming malls or corporate giants, though a large part of our population may still depend on farming, each day we wake up as Indians. WE toil through India’s soils, we watch Indian channels, we eat and drink India’s food.
Each day we read newspapers of India, checking up on politics, wondering who will be a good leader for what we have for so many years called our country. But now you make us wonder, is it really?
A Proud Northeast-ern