These days I feel old; not physically, but mentally. The world is changing fast around me, India has changed in the last few years. Or did I? Probably I moved from an India I knew to what we see now. Our experiences add colour to life or make it bland. We see the world through tinted glasses. We think what we see is the world. So, when we see someone with a different perspective, it feels very alien. Is that what is happening to me? Probably. But, I struggle with a deeper yearning: Where do I belong? To which India do I belong?
The India which was/is a part of me is always on the verge of poverty, where we don’t go without food for days, but do so from time to time. It is the place where familial ties are strained due to the pressure of lack of vitamin M (money). It is a place where your self worth is determined by how much you earn. It is a place where you occasionally have to depend on your relatives to get by, who never forget to remind you how much, a burden you are to them. It is a place where a bus strike could mean you walk 15 kilometres to and from school because you couldn’t afford any other means. It is a place where each toy you get as a kid becomes such a valuable that you stare more at it than play with it, which you hold onto so hard that you don’t share it with anyone else lest they break/lose it and you know you’ll not have a replacement. It is a place which lives on handed down clothes and which shops only after looking at the price tag.
The other India I’m a part of these days, is which hasn’t seen hardship, which spends its weekends in malls and shops because it is bored. It is a place where your first salary is more than your father’s last salary. It is a place which never travelled in a bus but for fun. It is a place which does not hesitate to share because replacing it is not a big deal. It is a place which eats out more than at home. It is a place which asks ‘what’s your plan this weekend?’ every week and expects an exciting answer every time. It is a place which believes in YOLO (You only Live once) that life is in today, in the now, and you need to enjoy like there’s no tomorrow. Which is so (financially) independent that taking shit from anyone for anything at anytime is not an option.
Times change, I think to myself, generations change, we are better than yesterday, that’s how life/societies moves on, so should you. It’s easy to scoff at the other. It is easy for one India to blame the other. It is easy to say ‘I understand’, but, know you never will, because you haven’t lived that life. Understand you may not, but learn, you can. If one experience has taught you to hold everything close to your heart, the other has taught you to let all go. If one has taught you the value of everything, the other has shown you how much is left to enjoy. If one has taught you that life has rainy days, the other has shown you all the sunshine there is in the world. If one has shown you to plan life in advance, the other has insisted in living life today. Don’t forget your roots, people say. But, don’t be limited also, because of your roots, is what I learnt. We are our experiences, I firmly believe that. But, who knows what’s out there? Good or bad. We never know. So even though we have strong reasons, rooted in our experiences, for our believes and actions, always cultivate a doubt, a question, “what’s out there?” If you are too depressed, let this question give you hope, if you are too footloose let this question remind you of responsibility.
And, coming back to my question, ‘Where do I belong?’ I belong to both, but I’m not limited to any.