A candid conversation with a close friend has left me distressed and besides myself. This close friend in question is a girl of impeccable upbringing, smart, very talented and educated. What I am trying to establish is that she is as regular and as extraordinary as you and me. And, yes, she is from Shillong, Meghalaya. And that has made all the difference.
While she sat across me and narrated one tale after the other of the amount of harassment and ill treatment she has received on account of looking different from others, I couldn’t help but be ashamed of ourselves and our society. Her each nasty encounter has been stamped by branding “her looks” as the reason for it. From Pune to Bangalore to Delhi, each city has been worse than the other
It’s not that I wasn’t aware of this prejudice. I have heard such remarks directed to anybody and everybody from North Eastern part of India. I have also read a lot about it. But hearing such firsthand encounters moved me beyond words. From being called names, to random people taking her for granted and another set of equally random people questioning her character and virtue, she has been there and faced it all, in the very country of her birth.
Being a responsible, law abiding and taxpaying citizen was never enough. There was constant reminder that she wasn’t welcome in her own country. And why just her, I am sure thousands face this issue everyday in India. Who are we then, to complain about racism and question how we are treated in foreign land? When in our own country we are biased and laced with prejudice against people from North East?
She has now moved out of India and she frankly she feels more at home and safer there than she ever felt in India. She is also beyond rage and angst. It’s like she has made her peace with it. This is a collective failure of the society and its inhabitants. How much more time will we take to get out act right?