-By Janice Mukhia
Imagine a talent show being the litmus test to your identity. On any given day that would seem absurd? I don’t get it and neither do I expect you to. But believe it or not……..Indian Idol III, or more importantly so, the aftermaths of its results is what made me reflect on the gravity of a very “grave situation”.
As any member of a hyphenated community, be it Indian-American, African-American, Asian-American…..I inevitably fall into that unenviable grey area of not knowing where exactly it is that I belong. Consequently, I inherit quite a raw deal called a “torn-sense of identity”. But then again, I guess it comes with the territory. In my case, I am an Indian of Nepali origin, now turned American after being an Alien for “N” number of years. Go figure!!! It’s been a transition to say the least.
For the most part, I would like to call myself a Kalimpongey from Dungra busty but since that turns out to be an inconvenience to the geographically challenged, I’ve settled for the wider picture…..A Darjeelingey. But I digress.
Coming home to my original point, the results of Indian Idol III has indeed driven home a very somber issue for me and for a thousand other Nepalese living in the area. Here was Prashant Tamang, the 23-year-old contestant who put Darjeeling on the map in more ways than one. Quite unknowingly he became an icon for the Nepalese not only in the Darjeeling Hills but for Nepalese throughout the world. Quite involuntarily he no longer was a mere participant on a national competition……he came to symbolize an entire community. A community nevertheless, that has suffered suppression, deprivation and starvation for decades. In him we identified with all our unmet needs. In him we identified with our unheard demands and he became the voice for our unheard cries for justice. And so we proceeded with a passion to ensure a victory in the “ONE” battle of our lives that we knew we “HAD” to win. It was important for us to prove our skeptics wrong. It was important for us to show the cynics we’d awakened from our deep slumber. We did what any community would do. We rose up to the challenge and emerged as victors not the vanquished.
But as we stand at the brink of our victory……..it saddens me to see that today we stand alone. The country which we have called our motherland looks upon our victory with contempt. It looks to us with the same suspicion it reserves for the outsiders. It looks upon us as a competitor not a companion. As in everything else, our country and our fellow countrymen raise their fingers in condemnation for a crime we’re not responsible for. Today we stand defending ourselves from false allegations. Today we stand defending the very legitimacy of our identity.
Indeed it makes me wonder…… if the very country we call “Our Motherland” rejects us in such a loathsome manner, where then should our allegiances lie? Which flag do we turn to? Where then should we look to for support and encouragement? What then is our self-respect? Where then is “Our Home”??
Nay my brethren, we are indeed marooned in our own land. We are indeed an “Orphan Nation” ………….orphaned not in a foreign land, but in our own motherland which we call home.