It was around May 15, 2018. I was heading to Delhi from Jaipur, on to Guwahati along with my friends. We were adjusting our belts as the flight was about to take off. I happened to converse with one of my friends in our own language (Karbi). We were happy because we were going home (Karbi Anglong) after having lived near Jaipur for a long time.
Beside me, there were two passengers – a mother and a boy (of 14 or 15). They started to laugh among themselves. I thought they were busy with their own business – so I didn’t bother about it. We continued talking among ourselves in our own language.
A little later, I heard the mother say to her son (in Hindi) – “What are they speaking about? What language was that? Where are they from? We also need to speak something in Hindi. I think they are giving gaali. I hope they are from China…” I felt bad on hearing this. So I made a gesture and the boy was clever enough to understand it. Then he tried to warn his mother that we understand Hindi.
I happened to hear the boy whispering to his mom. So, after a while, I told the boy that I was an Indian and that I came from the Northeast. The boy freely talked to me about his studies, their home, etc. I got to know that they were residing in Jaipur, but their original home was in Bihar (somewhere in Patna).
However, his mother kept making fun of my body, face and language. She also came across as a very disturbing woman. She never stopped talking about some foolish things with her son – not even when everyone started staring at her. It seemed as though she was in her own world. However, I didn’t let her think that I was disturbed by her talks. But, I did try to make her son realise that one should never judge a book by its cover.
However, after some time, the boy asked me a question, “Bhaiya, aap veg ho ya non-veg?”
I sat numb for a second – and then replied that I was a non-vegetarian person, but that I preferred vegetarian food here in Rajasthan.
Then, I asked him why he raised such a question, despite the many other questions his mother had raised. He just made a face and replied, “Nothing. I was just asking.” After this, the boy never tried to talk to me. I felt bad about it, and it made me think why we were being criticised despite being Indians ? Why should we be judged just because of our face, skin and language? For the first time in my life, I was judged inside a plane for no other reason just than my language and my eating choices.
My sincere request to all the readers – please understand that language is a medium to communicate among listeners who are comfortable with it. So, we should respect all the languages in our society.
Also, why should we be judged for the food we eat? What’s the use and outcome of all this? No matter what we eat, how we talk, what our body structure looks like, or where we belong, the only things we need are respect, peace and bonhomie among ourselves.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.