India consists of 28 states, now 29. Wait cut 7,
Because we fail to learn geography
And trace lines on paper
In the same way that we do to the lines that mark our eyes
We fail to differentiate the colours on a map
Like the colours on our skin
India consists of 6 main racial groups
Negritos, Proto-Austroloids, Mediterraneans
Western Bracycecephals, Nordics, Mongoloid
We’d like to believe, we mixed these racial powders with a pestle
But the brown in my skin
And of every Indian
was not a ground mixture of races
It was the colour of the soil we fought for
Brown, as it was stamped upon and looted.
Brown as we took it back.
It was the colour of blood mixed in soil, not ancient ancestry.
It’s what made this nation free.
India taught primary education in 5 subjects.
English, Maths, Science,Social Sciences, Hindi.
We loved the language of the man who destroyed our colours, also the one of the man who believed in his superiority in a land where we all were the same.
Then there were Social sciences with history and geography.
And we never read more than what happened in the mainland.
We never read words in textbooks about the uprisings in Nagaland or Kerala, or anywhere where the colour of brown wasn’t purely brown or rightly white . Not a bit more black, not a bit more or ‘yellow’.
Fed me lies, or fed me nothing at all.
And I grew up knowing so less about my own country and the fight that led to it’s foundation.
But I knew about the Boston Tea Party and the Cold war and so I knew History.
4 names of people, I put out here that I’ve never heard before because apparently the freedom struggle of a region can only be validated when your face looks a particular way:
Rani Gaidinliu, Kushal Konwar, Pasaltha Khuangchera, Tyaagbir Hem Barua.
History was racist, I believed I was enlightened with my ideas of Indian History, but little did I know, little did I perceive.
My textbooks played a game to deceive.
My culture was/ is kept a secret.
But a quest not taken to unravel secrets in times of the internet, is termed as ignorance.
3 words (and more) with not to describe someone from the North Eastern states of India:
Chinky, Chinese, Nepalese
It’s not insulting to me that I’m reminiscent to you of a culture that you’re as ignorant of as you’re of mine. That’s an insult to you, and only you.
It is insulting that you would not place me on the lines of my own cultural legacy, you’ve hidden it away in
Trunkets wrapped in shawls of exotic embroidery everywhere
But it’s still my culture and history to hold.
Stop taking it away from me.
2 Words that define me in a better yet still politically incorrect sense: North East.
It’s Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. Say it out loud. Say it again. Say it till you know where on a map, they strongly stand.
It’s always Mumbai or Delhi, not the western state or northern capital.
Stop rubbing down identities into directions and then crashing your moral compasses in the same way.
That’s 98,653 square miles.
That’s 7% of India’s total area,
It more than enough for you to not estimate my racial profile.
One word: to the north to the south, to the east to the west, and to all that lies in between, you are Indian, because you are.
Unity in Diversity is lie they slit our throats with and poured down like bitter medicine, and it still bubbles up in my throat.
It’s a bitter medicine trying to heal wounds in the body of India, forced on us, because you’re supposed to treat all parts of your body well.
You are Indian because you are.
Because you fought for this land as much as I did, and you will and I will.
Because India is no India with parts cut and washed away.
Because India in it’s horrors and strength is India.
Though our skins might shine different in different lights
Our eyes close, eyebrows edged at different sights
I hope we open our mouths for the deserved rights, strong mights, unvoiced fights…
For a land within it’s hills and valleys
That has remained quiet.
By Priyanka Paul
Priyanka Paul is an 18 year old illustrator and poet from Mumbai. She uses her art to talk about issues close to her heart. She’s currently studying media at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.