A North Eastern from India
It’s high time to start treating our own countrymen right.
I have always loved the sky, it is different everywhere, and it is still the same,
and it speaks differently to each of us, but accepts us all the same.
Coming from a land where the sky is always blue, even when it feels grey,
I always managed to find the silver linings in the clouds,
but the clouds are different in this new city, and so are the people.
So here are 6 things to remind yourself being a North-Eastern person from India–
1. When they call you Chinese, correct them.
in your native dialect, tell them your full name and what it means to you. Show them your birth marks and tell them about the childhood stories your mother tucked you with, in the nights. Remind them of your ancestors who fought for this country, remind yourself of your ancestors, who danced among the stars with swords in their hands, and freedom was the theme of the evening.
2. They will always say that you are what you eat,
so when they call you with names of steamed and fried, foreign food items, tell them you prefer your meals boiled. Tell them about the aroma of your mother’s Eromba and how it brings you on your knees, tell them about Sana Thongba and smile with all the chillies in your veins when they get uncomfortable in calling you with the correct metaphors.
3. When you smile, do not cover those eyes,
you have got nothing to hide. They will find ways to ridicule them for being smaller or slanted than usual. Remind them about the dreams they hold, and how huge they are. Tell them about the landscapes that these eyes have beheld, and the rainbows they have witnessed after surviving a storm. Laugh at the silly ignorance, for you already know, that there is no such thing as a perfect nose, you’re already winning by breathing alright.
4. When they make fun of your accent,
Remind yourself of the sky, and the way it speaks to you every day. Ask the sky to make it rain, because we all sound the same when we hush under the music of water, let the pain wash away.
Show them the compass that you created with your accent, as it points towards your home. Tell them your full name, over and over again, until they pronounce it correctly.
5. When they harass your shy friend from college or spit on the gorgeous face of your sister,
make a fist and punch the punchlines out of their mouths, stand up for your dignity, stand up for your pride, stand up for your heritage, and roar like the sky. Grab all your courage, don’t let them break you.
They will call you small, they will call you soft, they will laugh at the anger that boils inside your rib-cage. Make your heart grow in knowledge and books, and know that your voice too can get heard when you make it loud enough. Always remember, that you are so soft, that you can’t ever be broken.
6. If they treat you like an outsider,
ask them politely not to. Tell them about the Indian blood that your heart pumps out, and how much it hurts when you build a home at a place which does not love you back. Ask them the meaning of the derogatory terms that they use like chink and gook, and fight back the racism that runs in this country, by telling them about honour and dignity and your parent’s prayer behind the name that they gave you. Tell them how every time they confuse you with any other nationality, strips away from your individuality, you are not alien. You are not alien!
So rise above the stereotypes, make your way ahead.
And speak back to the sky, for it is different everywhere, and it is still the same,
and it speaks differently to each of us but accepts us all the same.