She roams around the house in a green and yellow lehenga (a full length traditional Indian skirt). Her palms have henna on them and just a little above that, the wrist has a couple glass bangles. Her long hair is braided at the back and could probably do with some flowers.
In a fast changing world the modern day nomads travel and settle in distant lands yet holding onto their identity. In Piya Mukherjee’s words:
She sits next to her toddler brother, playing cars with him oblivious to the guests around them at home. There is a bottle of Arrowhead Water sitting next to them on the floor. A little while later, someone introduces them as “the little guests from California”. She hesitantly says her Namaste. They engage her in a conversation and she replies in Hindi.
Questions come rushing in. There is a surprise in the tone of the questions. But I find myself answering it differently this time. All the previous times I have said, they know our language, they eat the same food, they love wearing ethnic clothes and know as much or perhaps more about our culture as a kid of their age should.
This time I say it differently. I simply say this. “The Arrowhead water bottle and the accented sounds is just to trick you.” They get the hint. The kids are by this time gorging on rasgullas and gulab jamuns, my six year old looks up and gives me a smile. She knows the drill. They get asked similar questions all the time on the trips we make to India.
She tells me once the guests have departed that day. “I feel like I am one of them, but they always feel I am different. I am different but I am the same.”
The last phrase hits home.
So today, I write this for all the parents who live outside the country that they were born in and put in tremendous effort in keeping their culture, language, literature and cuisine alive at home. It takes a lot of work, I know that. But we are raising kids who are not only learning to accept diversity but also learning to mingle where they may find it difficult to fit in.
Story Credit : Piya Mukherjee