The last time I wrote, it was about my grandfather and my days with him. My life isn’t extraordinary or something, and it is pretty much what normal teens would experience. You know the usual........grades, friends and family. So just to continue with the ‘anecdotes from my life’ theme, I’ll tell you how I formed the definition of my identity.
My parents belong to different cultures. My mom basically belongs to Andhra Pradesh and my dad hails from Odisha. Even though these states are neighbors, believe me, they are as different as chalk and cheese. And so are my mom and dad. Right from the beginning, ever since I could remember, they respected each other’s differences. They made sure I learn both the languages and know about the cultures. The two of us, my brother and I, were made proficient both ways.
But if you studied in a private school then you are aware of the insane amount of peer pressure around. You know about the groups they form- based on the silliest criteria possible. You are outcaste for no reason, and instead of respecting the differences- you are boycotted if you don’t follow the crowd. So yes, at the age of nine I was busy fighting all this shit. How people at school always reminded me of my ethnicity, how someone actually told me that because this is a patriarchal society, I should forget my mother’s culture and all........I mean, now when I look back I honestly think all this stemmed from jealously more than anything else.
All this well before Chetan Bhagat wrote 2 States.
So anyway I remember coming home once in tears, determined to find an answer. I asked my parents about who or what I am. Their answer was simple. They asked me to adopt whatever I liked. The problem was, I couldn’t choose between the two.
Times changed, I changed to a much better school and I grew up. With time I realised that whoever I am, I am just perfect. I met positive upbeat people, I had friends who didn’t care about my ethnicity and loved me for the way I am. I have an answer now. I belong to both the states. Instead of choosing one, I chose both. And if I might add, I cherish the look of surprise on people’s faces when they hear my story.
But my mind goes back to the day when my parents refused to give me a direct answer. They left it to their nine-year-old daughter to figure out for herself. They left me to choose my own path. To let me decide if peer pressure could define me. I’m glad they did that. They didn’t tell me that my friends were wrong to bully me like that. They gave me a full impartial chance to develop my own identity. They trusted their kid.
Today, I am a much more sensible and a strong girl. And like I said, I belong to both the states. My background and ethnicity don’t bother me. I realised that the right people will love you anyway, and it’s your attitude that attracts people. I belong to both the states and I’m blessed to have that honour.