This should not come as a surprise if some of us dream of changing their birthplace. I have been, unfortunately, one of those. If given a chance, I would have changed my birthplace — but not my family — in a blink. What could possibly be the reason for this irrational thought? To know the reason, you might want to know something about common Indian notion about a few states. In India, Bihar and U.P. are two states who have been constantly demeaned. The major reason has been their non-refined language, which is considered rural. Another reason has been their lack of sophistication. People from other cities flinch at the mention of these states. A few “extremely sophisticated” people would not allow being associated — even in their wildest dream — with the people of these states because they do not want to be considered “LS” (Low Standard). Apparently, one’s birthplace is the only deciding factor of their character. The fact that they have come out of that place and are standing ahead of these “extremely sophisticated” people does not mean anything. I pity these people, forgive my outburst, with such low IQ.
I did not know these unsaid rules when I first stepped out of my birth place but realized it pretty soon that there is a preconceived notion about the people from U.P. and it’s not good. So, I used one of my favorite assets to modify my image: lie. I began lying about my birthplace and voila, that did the trick. Now, people were creating my image based on my talent and work, rather than my birthplace. I lied about my birthplace, since, and the results have been overwhelming. Nevertheless, where you come from would catch up with you, eventually. This happened to me, too. A few of the acquaintances, on knowing the truth, reacted with a shocked expression and said,” You don’t look like that you are from there.” Well, in the beginning, it felt nice to know that I am different from the people from that state, but then I felt bad for them. Not every person from those states is as bad as they are being portrayed as. This did not feel right. In fact, some of the people from my state are far better from the “self-proclaimed better breed.” But, that is not even an issue. Why do we have the feeling of “my state” and “your state?” We were, once, enslaved by British due to our divided mindset and after years of getting freedom, we are back on the same track. Would we never learn? The diversity in our country is something that we should be proud of, but here we are, demeaning and mocking one another. Instead of celebrating this amazing opportunity of living with a variety of people, we are trying to establish our own superiority. Even if I could establish that my state is better than the other, how does it make me a better person? What did I contribute by taking birth in this place? If a person was not born in a superior state, then what right do I have to ridicule them? Actually, we don’t have any right, but we, the tags-obsessed people, cannot survive without society approved labels: rich, poor, branded, non-branded, and what not!
As long as we are on the topic of celebrating diversity, why limit to one country? Why don’t we celebrate universal diversity? So what, if a person is Christian or Muslim or Hindu, as long as they are good humans, we must learn from them. An Indian can teach a few things to Australians and vice versa. Similarly, we can all learn a lot from one another’s country. But, here we are, taunting one another and proving our supremacy over another. We would do anything for a moment of petty self-satisfaction, wouldn’t we?
One day, I shared my feeling of embarrassment caused by my birthplace with my husband, and he said one thing, which left me pondering for a while. I told him that I lie sometimes about where I came from. He said, “Anki, you are one of the most talented persons, I have ever known. If people like you would not proudly embrace their birthplace, then how can you expect its image to ever change?” I couldn’t believe how brilliant he sounded — generally, he is the funny guy, so when he says something profound, I have a hard time believing my own ears. Anyway, since then, I do not lie about my roots. I am from Kanpur, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. If another person has a tiny brain, then that shouldn’t be my problem. No matter where I am from, I believe in universal unity. If others can’t think beyond their city, state or country, then that’s their problem — not mine!
P.S. This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday prompt – “How I grew up to be the one I am today..” hosted by Kristi Rieger Campbell of http://www.findingninee.com.