Yes it is time we understand and accept that India that as we know it today is only yrs old.
Yes we are a land of diversity, of food, culture, thought. Time and again we are told of the great tradition that we come from. But history is always the story of the winner. It the narrative of the most powerful or the loudest bully in town.
When it comes to India, I do not know when we will understand that we are not ONE nation or ONE country we are a subcontinent ofnationalities. There are multiple identities and layers, multiple loyalties. Sometimes I wonder if “my country” is only a place I make up in my mind. Something I dream of and sing because it is being marketed to me full throat.
Often I wondered what it would be to move out to another country… it particularly bothers me when I meet the NRI crowd who seem to stuck in a time warp when it comes to changing social responses, attitude .
The truth could be country not a place on the map at all, it is in the story full of people, it is in the people we meet, the places we visit, the books that store the narrative, the films that sing the song.
Be it the displaced Sindhi.. the unacknowledged Tuluvas… the betrayed Kodavas… the misunderstood Byari or Navyati… we are not afraid of being homesick, and having no language… we understand that we stand in our nationality…individually together in the collective nationality of the subcontinent. Maybe as our oral traditions say, it is not the land we are loyal to but the sea.
I do not know and I do not really care. So when I say I love country… what do I really mean? The geographic expanse… the people… the stories? One does not really inhabit a country one inhabits a language
Coming to love for the country.. maybe we call it patriotism that is something totally difficult to put into words. It is probably a state of mind, and not an emotion, or opinion or mandate… it could be either essential or reflection of our own personal sense of worth and respect for our roots. Love for the country is of course a part of it, so is pride and on another level it is neither pride nor love.
If we were to think of ideas as a country then consciousness would be its citizen.. that is to say patriotism is the commitment to what is the best within us all, it is recognition and acceptance of our greater surrounding… our team to our school, the state…Our ethnic roots delineates us from our immediate soceity, yet there is a commonality that binds… often borders are so rigid, and often they are so fluid that we do not pay allegiance as much as we resonate with a shared spirit.
When my uncle married his second wife, she brought a ritual with her which I found very profound, soil from her hometown, soil from our hometown she blended with the soil of the town they relocated into, she then planted a seed in this composition.. now ten years later the seed is a beautiful tree symbolizing the blending of three ethnicities.
Of course there is an undeniable bond with the swaying coconut trees, the waft of drying fish and frying golibhajje.. when we leave it behind for another we grow to feel a similar bond… though a bit complex for in the new we only pick that our roots resonates with. Both are patriotism, the first is involuntary the other is a choice that grows on us. both equally worthy. Though the second has to earned.
If there is something that is really praiseworthy is despite the oppressions, the marginalization, the countries thrive in the people’s ethos… and lend their individual flavour to the greater narrative of the subcontinent.