An Orphaned Nation

-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.

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8 thoughts on “An Orphaned Nation

  1. Juanita Mukhia

    My elder sister’s piece resonates the emotions of a wider nepali community. Thankyou for using this platform to voice our sentiments.

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  2. Maya

    Thanks Janice for your emotion filled write up. I could totally relate to what you have written. I have only one thing to say to those people who belittle us that they are ignorant.To-day Gurkha Regiment defend the country hand in hand with Assam Rifles, Punjab Regiment etc. Indians of Nepali origin are as Indian as The Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh. India enherited people of Darjeeling and Sikkim along with the land.

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  3. Navin

    Quite hesitantly I have to murmur “Home Sweet Home” as nothing but ration card gives my residential status, boundary of my country begins above Teesta Bridge beyond that point I am still an alien….
    My relationship with my Motherland reminds me of a poetry in a motion, collection of Albert J Bell:
    “Forty Years of friendship with my Grandfather and still Uncle Al cannot eat with chopsticks, Forty Years of friendship with uncle Al & still my Grandfather forgets to offer him a fork…”
    bless you Jan

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  4. mother land………’nepal’

    as history proves that darjeeling district was snatched away from nepal during the colonial rule.

    darjeeling is in indai just for the purpose of land, territory, economic benefit, and name sake…..but as far as i know, we all identify ourselves more closely with Nepal.

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  5. janice

    Sunil, I am not so sure if I totally agree with what you have written.

    Yes, our historical roots does trace us back to Nepal BUT Darjeeling and its adjoining districts are now a part of India and hence we are now legal citizens of India.

    True we have a soft spot for nepal but I am not so sure if the situation is totally reciprocated. In that, I know of Nepalese who do not acknowledge Darjeelingeys as nepalis and who do not want to be associated with us. To be objective about the whole ordeal, I am not so sure if Darjeelingeys themselves would like to go that route. But I guess that is another discussion for another day.

    Then too, despite all the imperfections of our current situation, at the end of the day we are still Indians and hence India is our motherland.

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  6. sunil

    Well, reading what I had wrote the other day makes me object that myself. Yea, Darjeeling is in India, and it was way too stupid and rigid for me to make that comment.

    I grew up in Kalimpong and in Nepal, so it was quite different for me. I associate myself strongly with both the place. I identify myself even personally as a Nepali. (The core of both the places)

    Probably, it’s different from the individual point of view of both the places.

    Somehow, it just doesn’t feel right. I do not point my finger at India, but what’s been publicized about Nepali (darjeeligay nepali or Nepal nepali) after Prashant winning the idol seems quite contemptuous. It’s not really approved by the nation as the way it should be, in fact after this event, its feels like the most part of the nation condemns the whole event. Probably I m considering it all wrong, but it doesn’t quite feel fine.

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  7. Thomas

    even before prashant won the contest we were considered as outsiders and even now we are considered the same and looking to the fuure nothing is going to change…we’ll remain outsiders.
    eventhough kiran desai has lambasted the people of kalimpong in her book, we should be thankful to her in a way that she made people recognize that kalimpong is a place in india

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