By Lina Anal Poumai:
Every day I walk to the bus-stop and take an auto-rickshaw to the metro station from there. This takes about 10 minutes. Then the metro ride to Vishwavidyalaya takes another 25 minutes and then another auto-ride to the college that takes, what, 5 minutes? All this, if there is no traffic.
It is quite a task, especially when repeated almost every morning. But one gets accustomed to things when one keeps doing them without really getting used to them.
It was a Tuesday morning when I was secretly raving about how good the weather was, walking the streets of RK Puram with a poker-face on and pretending to ignore the world around me: the cars, the dogs, the parents and their children and the young boys and girls walking to school in the morning.
Could anyone have guessed the effort I put in the morning to apply my gel eyeliner by just looking at me?
With one glance at me could anyone have guessed what a hearty meal I had the previous night? The excitement I feel when my father gets pork meat home and how I do not let my mother come near it so that I can cook it with bamboo shoot, chillies, and potatoes, everything drowning in the pork fat? All that and the chillies! A good dinner is always a good end to a day, and a good dinner is pork and bamboo shoot, and then there are potatoes too and yes, the chillies.
Could anyone know just with a glance?
With one look at me could anyone have known about the torch that has been lit in my heart for somebody and the fire that has been set on the other side too? And though it has only been a couple of months it is the freshest part of me. And though it has already been a couple of months it still is the freshest part of me.
With one glance at me, could anyone have known?
Look at me and tell me, could you have known all the pain I endured to reach this moment of my life, to sit here and be able to write, to stand here and be able to talk, to lay here and be able to sing? I have lived to see this day today, to see you today. I lived to this day.
Could you have guessed?
All my cries, sufferings, laughter, joys, memories and even those that I don’t remember anymore: The stories I could tell my children and then their children; stories I could tell my friends and stories I could tell someone who needs it more than I do. Could you have fathomed the stories that breathe in me? Could you have guessed what my stories would be like? With just one look at me?
The answer is known. The answer is no.
Walking the streets of RK Puram, raving about how pleasant the morning is, ignoring the world around me, a child screams, “Chinki!” and he laughs.
His friends laugh.
Instantly, my life and my stories, all become worth nothing.
I just became a face with no past whatsoever, only a face that was moulded differently, shaped differently from ‘you’, painted differently from ‘you’.
Only my face remains.
My entire existence brought down to the only one truth of my life that you can see: my face.
Did that make that boy’s day?
“Chinki” and you laughed, you all laughed.
What was the joke I wonder, the very word ‘Chinki’?
The word is cringe-worthy to me.
I can never bring myself to say it loudly, and it is a word I associate with shame.
Is that not how it is?
But for that boy, it wasn’t. He said it proudly, bravely, tauntingly.
You laugh, you all laugh.
I have eyes that are shaped differently from yours, and perhaps I am different from you but is that a weapon for you to use against me? Perhaps you are different from me too but have I ever used that against you?
To me, you were just a boy, a child going to school in this lovely part of the city on this lovely morning and I swear I had no intention to hurt you. I swear I still have no intention to hurt you.
I pray that you’ll grow up to be a good man who doesn’t mock people for being different; who’ll learn kindness and tolerance.
Who will be accepting of all humanity: for humans are real and so is humanity, for there is no superior race, as hard it is to believe it, I hope you’ll come to believe it.
I hope you’ll grow up to be a man who will make humanity proud and himself proud for the good man you have turned out to be.
I hope there will be no more “chinki” and no more name calling.
I hope there will be no more mockery and prejudice.
I hope you’ll be kind, sensitive and sensible.
I hope you’ll get real.