If given another chance, I would still like to be born in the north-eastern region of India. There are many reasons for that. Of course, everyone loves their hometown or the city and the state they belong to but, for me, it is not just about the patriotism towards my region, but it is because of the lifestyle, culture, food, warmth and uniqueness that these people, my people share. I would like to give you a glimpse of it.
It has been more than 25 years of my existence on this earth and I have never felt a bit of gender inequality in my home or in my village. My mother taught me to be a self-sustained woman and both my father and brother supported it. Yes, I am the lucky daughter and so is almost every daughter in the north-eastern region of India. We have never seen signs of any mentality that considers a single gender as bigger or better. For us, it is the heart that plays a major role while differentiating a human from another. Why would not it? For us, heart tells no lies.
The people of North East have a very simple mind and a lifestyle. You may find it little hard to believe but trust me when I say this that our land is yet to be fully engulfed by the craziness of selfies and fast moving life. We believe in living our life to the fullest without worrying about tomorrow and we prefer meeting and talking to people face to face rather than texting. We are rich in culture and though we need to improve with technological advancement, but very much human. Whatever little we have, we believe in sharing those because it is just one lifetime.
On our land, you will find it very easy to talk and be friendly with the local people because we still practice “Atithi Devo Bhava”. But do not try to exploit us in any way as that is not our way of doing things. Do not call us by other names because we do not call people by the place they belong to or the way they look. We rejoice through food. We have our own signature food, that is not just some plants or animal boiled with salt but with special ingredients that we would like you to try. You just have to accept our choices like we have learned to appreciate the choices of others. We do not discriminate. Why? Because we have always been on the receiving side and we know exactly how it feels.
You call our land as Jungle. It’s okay because yes, it is a Jungle. A jungle where no one is criticized based on their skin color or the percentage of fat in the body. It is a jungle where a girl child gets the chance to live without being killed in the womb. A jungle where the same amount of education and support from their parents and relatives is shared by the siblings. We live in a jungle where we do not sell our daughters or ask for some expensive cars to get married to one and obviously you can’t rely on the mobile network to communicate too.
Neither is Hindi our first language nor English (although few sister state’s official language is English) because we have our own mother tongue. So, forgive us if our Hindi is not perfect. We do not judge you by the amount of accent and command that you have over your language. How can we? We are no expert and we will never be. We accept that our Hindi speaking skill is not the best but at least we are learning to speak your tongue. Have you tried learning our languages? Please do not judge us by the way we speak because you are not at the right position to do so. Instead, teach us when we make mistakes. We appreciate that and we’ll do better at speaking it.
Do you know that Mughal Empire almost never could rule the North East India? but that was before British Colonization. We all went through the same difficult phase for 200 years, just in different languages and slightly different ways. As a commoner just like you, we are also getting engulfed by mindless bloodletting now. Even after 70 years of Independence, India’s North East remains an enigma to many. Our history is a bit different, yet we are at least together now. We sing the same National Anthem and we rejoice when India wins a cricket match. Then, how are we any different from you?
If we are different from you then so are you to us. We are just human with slightly different features and habits and nothing else. Is not that something to celebrate? We have never learned to do bad demeaning things to an animal, let alone another person, so please understand that we mean no harm to you when we visit your city for a job or education and spare us of all the bad things that you do to us. Surprisingly, people on the other side of the wall held a whole different perception that we were unknown to. That is not our fault. Why should we suffer all the time? We have accepted you the way you are, then why can not you? Don’t you think, it is time for you to change too and learn to be more you, more human?
If we are in your city then, believe me, it is because your city has better opportunities and we envy you. You are the lucky one for us because you are with your loved ones. People like us have to move beyond the boundaries of our comfortable homes just to gain a better chance at living. Just like other girls and boys with a dream, we have dreams and achieve those we move away from the warmth of our home, our beloved food, festivals, and friends. Many of you might have already gone through the same phase too. Then, why is it that we are hated and neglected the most for the choices that we make?
I am from a small town in North East India and I would like to show you a mirror. We are no way better. How can we be? Poverty and terrorism prevail in our land too. Forget about big shopping malls and amusement parks, we still lack schools and colleges with good faculties and sufficient supports. We also lack four-lane roads and restaurants with international cuisine. Our land does not have a metro train or big companies with job opportunities. My people suffer every year due to flood that most of you are unaware of, earthquake and human-made disasters ruin our home, but you will never know about this because you are too busy laughing at us and throwing shade. It’s not okay anymore. You truly need to learn better.
I can be angry but that won’t change much. We have never been portrayed well enough. You have bever read about the land in books, so how would you know anything good or bad about us. Let me tell you that we are just like you with dreams, wishes, and aspire to do something notable.
We are people of simple desires like better education opportunity, clean drinking water, 10 hours of electricity, food, safety and some happy moments with our loved ones. You will find people gathering around a bonfire, sharing their homemade food for some little joys after a hard working day.We love to talk our hearts out and laugh at idiotic jokes. Our land is home to many tribes so, we speak more than one tongue. We love to dress up and celebrate festivals that are our own and even those that you celebrate like Diwali, Holi and Durga puja. Our food is different but we also eat both Rice and Chapati and Dosa and Chicken Butter Masala.
We have our own music and movies but we love Bollywood too. Just like you, we dance to Lungi Dance to show our dancing ability. At times, we also listen to A R Rahman to soothe our soul. We danced with joy when something good happens in the country like when three Indian daughters made the whole country proud and cringe to the fact that not a single city is safe for the same daughters. We too suffered the first few days of demonetization when the lines to reach the cash vomiting machines were longer than the Brahmaputra river. Are we any different now?
P.S. If you would like to judge and comment on us then I would say, please visit the land first and get to know us. We would really appreciate that. If you ever decide to take a life-changing journey to the Land of seven sisters, the only thing that I can guarantee is that you are in it for surprises. You will know how similar we are through our differences.
I appreciate the time and effort you gave to read the letter till the end. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is just a letter from a small town girl of North East India. We are no way better than you, just a bit different and that is the beauty of being born in India. If you agree to differ then I would surely like to know, how. Because I think, we are equal and we deserve to be treated equally.
One last thing, I would be ever grateful for your support in sharing this around, so feel free to hit the buttons below to share on various channels. Big Thanks!