An unusual joy filled my mind when I learnt that Miss America 2014 is an Indian. When I heard her last name, I felt immense joy that she is from Andhra Pradesh. How does it make a difference to me? Why do I feel so happy about a total stranger just when I know that she is from my community? Isn’t this wrong? Is this what is called racism? I don’t know.
The feeling of alienation, the feeling that we are not getting our due recognition in a country which feeds us but is not our own, is always engraved into our souls. And when one person from our country achieves something in this alien country, the sisterhood feeling springs out. Nothing wrong, I would say. After all who doesn’t like recognition? And who doesn’t like to show off that we (read Indians) too can achieve something?
My childhood was spent in Odisha though I’m a Telugu speaking girl. I couldn’t say with confidence that I’m from Andhra when I was growing up. But since I did my higher studies in Andhra Pradesh and started working there, I have been able to face myself when I said that I’m from Andhra. I have never felt a part of odisha simply because I was not part of it, I just grew up there! If not for my dad’s State Gov job, I’m sure he too wouldn’t have liked to stay there for so many years, away from Andhra. In a bigger spectrum, now living in the US makes me feel that I don’t belong here and crave to be a part of India.
What is it that keeps us ticking in a place that is not our own? It is this very feeling of alienation and the craving to go back to your roots! The constant longing for our state, our country and our community is what keeps us hanging in there. It is natural human psychology that we crave for and long for something only until we get it. Once it becomes ours, we tend to forget its importance. We tend to forget the journey towards the destination, all we feel is relaxed that now we are where we want to be.
When in a new country, we focus more on the culture of our country. We teach our kids the tastes and customs of India and we tend to teach them our language and culture too. What is it that makes us do this? Is it just because we are scared that we will forget our culture or is it because we want to pass on our culture to the next generation? Maybe neither, it is because we love our country and miss being there that we try to create that world here.
It is 12 years now since we moved to the US, but we are still ‘moved’ by everything that is Indian. I have seen so many Indians in the US who are happily settled here, their kids settled here and they are leading a satisfying life as citizens. But then, when something happens in India, they feel for it, they cry their hearts out to be amongst theirour kith and kin in India.
Some may say that they don’t visit India anymore because there is nobody there for them, no parents or siblings, and no extended family. For some of us, once-in-two-years regime of going to India may be for our own pleasure and purpose. But for all of us, our hearts miss a beat when we watch the news of India and the disasters that are happening there. Isn’t this what is called ‘patriotism’ in the true sense of the word? When your heart beats for something, for someone, unconditionally, that is called love, and that is where love is and always will be! In our hearts, for our country, no matter where we are! Jai hind!