An Open Goodbye Letter to India

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Dear India,

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?

Goodbye,

A Proud Northeast-ern

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257 thoughts on “An Open Goodbye Letter to India

  1. Hi Kim,

    Your letter is hurtful and painful feeling/emotions that I, being a NE’ner (Manipuri) have been living through every day since I came to Delhi and trying to ignore to live my life. Its funny to think that only NE schools taught Geography and we all know which city is in which state while most of our educated Indians don’t; including some official working is Gov. Public sectors; who oftenly ask “Where is your state? Nepal!!”. Hell! how did they even get in the public sector job without knowing who are the public.

    Discrimination will always exits where there are differences. (No wonder I discriminate my left hand over right hand while eating). If I had to read into too closely to all the posts which have wrote above, some call them-self “US INDIANS” meaning the mainland people are called Indian only, separating the people from NE shows that there is still discrimination. Having said that we do not deserve to be discriminated. We are also a part of India and we proudly call ourself Indians.

    And as many people has said and wrote, there are people within our country who are true friends and are ready to help us and accept us as for what and where we came from or how we look. Some of my best friends are from Delhi. Have my first love from Delhi.

    We all have to show them what we are made of, make them understand which kinds of families we grew up from (specially the ones they think like “we live on big trees houses with bows and arrows, covered ourself with green leaves”). Teach them how liberal we are and what we thought of them. Only than, we might be able to make some form of changes (in groups) in what they think of us.

    Nonetheless, I support, we all will support to stop such unfortunate happenings and stop discriminating people on grounds of any differences. After all we are all Indians.

    Best Wishes!!
    A proud Indian A proud North Easterner

    • @ RK SINGH you are right when you say that discrimination exist just like right hand from left while eating and offering to Gods but that does not lessens the importance of left hand.The work of needle can’t be done by the sword and vice- versa… and to attain symmetry and beauty both hands MUST be intact, well oiled and well cared for. And there is no US INDIANS ….its only Indians…there is no India without NE or Kashmir or Punjab(few years back the khalistan thing) .I only want to say that discrimination WILL exist. Its we who have to change the mind set by modelling our kids and our own attitudes…change starts from home…I can see I am being vague but AM really troubled by Kimi’s sentiments…. she should feel sad and hurt and neglected and everything she felt but just not that She is not alone …EVERYBODY faces it. Be strong,rational and believe in that higher shakti ….that may your path never gets crossed by irrational/aimless/sick people.
      Love , Kokila

  2. Beautifully written expose of real life prejudice and discrimination. So sorry it is necessary for you to write this piece. Sadly many judge people by our outer shells, not our inner hearts and souls. TY for sharing.

  3. Beautifully written Kimi… I can imagine what it actually feels to be taunted and pointed out in your very own homeland. But I do agree with LP Thapa, that there is too much lack of mutual interaction. I have neighbors who too belong to scheduled tribe, but they mix so homogeneously with us that they are part of family now. :):)

  4. I can’t help but comment on this insightful article. I am from Manipur, from Lamka, and I had spent years abroad. I have come to realised that of all the major democratic and multicutural countries that I have come across, it is India’s notion of multiculturalism that is the most worrisome. In Australia, they don’t care. You r an Indian. They accept that there is no given ethnicity that makes one an INDIAN or an AUSTRALIAN. However you look, you could or can be an Indian. BUT it is Indians themselves that discriminate against fellow Indians in a foreign land. Period. That let me to question what really is multiculturalism in India? As long as you LOOK like those mainstream Indians, meaning TYPICAL Indians from the mainland, you are safe irrespective of your caste, religion, sexual attitude etc. India does accept diversity of cultures, religions, beliefs etc. BUT it still does not accept diversity of ETHNICITY. In other words LOOKS. Everything therefore boils down to that. To help with those who trumpeted India’s multiculturalism and diversity. They missed one fundamental point. Acceptance of people who DO NOT look like a TYPICAL Bihari, a Haryanvi, a Tamil so on and so forth. Only when this is solved will India becomes a true multicultural country.

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  6. Sad state of affairs. You have written it well. I think you shouldn’t take it serious when it’s by friends. I have also given and received such comments, but we know very well that it doesn’t mean anything.

  7. I lived 90% of my life outside India and one thing ive come to realise is how tight knit the Indian community tends to be when outside. It would be stupid to say that this north, south, east, west divide didn’t exist, but it’s definitely less pronounced. I remember while in school a Singh, Nair, Shah or a Borah were just names and not something one associated with geographic regions. But after moving back Ive realized things don’t work the same way here. And surprisingly over the years ive partaken in and have also been at the receiving end of comments that could be considered racist.

    That being said, let not the acts of a few reduce your love for this country… 🙂

  8. “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself”. Your article is beautifully and well written, I just love love love it. Sadly and unfortunately, there are still people who are just plain ignorant and insensitive; nevertheless, we cannot afford to allow their silly immature behaviors to have negative impact on us … hopefully someday they will change their attitudes and learn to be more tolerant.

  9. Pingback: An Open Goodbye Letter to India | Life is Beautiful

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