Shirupetti Rajaram, a boy like any other, hailed from a lower middle class family from the town of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu. Like in any family, expectations from him were very high and shouldering this responsibility successfully, he managed to work hard with the limited resources and had somehow even managed to grab a seat in an engineering college up north.
His parents had always warned him “don trust the fair people… stay with people of our kind”. He had ridiculed them then. He realized language might be a barrier, but he always felt he could manage with the 6th grade Hindi. He always wanted to know how things worked up north. He was certain that the move was for the better and couldn’t wait to make new friends and enter a whole new world.
Two years had passed since then.
Looking around him then, he saw the only people he could call “friends”, all of them hailing from the same state as him, some even from the same district. It had somehow happened that he found himself comfortable and home only with these people almost as if there were no other choice. There as they sat up through the night smoking in their hostel balconies, jabbering away in their native tongue, is when the irony struck him.
For the last two years he had sat in class by himself, the only person from the south. His classmates had always been nice to him, gave him their notes, taught him if he ever needed anything and occasionally even offered him a ride. But in none of them could he really find a friend. Somehow, he found himself as a misfit among the folks that surrounded him; he could feel his sheer presence in others conversations creating a seemingly small sense of uneasiness in the air. He could never get why they all had to be formal with him, despite his best attempts to converse in their language. He always hoped that someday things would get alright, he would no longer be considered as part of the minorities. “Someday”, he always told himself as he hit the bed with tears on days that weren’t his. Someday.
It was then, that he smiled. His parent’s voice went over his head “don’t trust them…” He wondered if they might have actually been right, if he had so pointlessly argued that night, unaware of the world and its hard hitting realities. It was just then that his turn came, it had reached him at last. Taking one long breath he let the smoke in the air knowing it was going to last another long night.
In a nation like India, with over 1 billion people spread over 28 states, with over a hundred registered languages; if one has to ever imagine, how do we manage all this?
Yes, maybe about a little more than half the country speaks our national language. But, what about the rest? Do they lead their lives in a world of their own?
What about people like Shirupetti Rajaram who have dreams that are neither bound by regions nor languages, are they simply to be told they were wrong? In today’s world there does exist regional disparities between people and their culture. People have stereotyped each other for what they have been and not what they are today.
Let’s forget the 1 billion people if this cry can reach at least the youth of the nation, is there a plea which can eradicate the differences that set us apart, or is the grand dream of a united progressive India going to elude us? The question remains to be answered, not tomorrow but today…
The writer is a Raipur based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz
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