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Being Indian

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I understand it can get confusing to a child, specially someone as young as a 3 year old, nonetheless when he started to sing the St. Lucian national anthem as I pinned an Indian flag onto his shirt, it stung a little.

Today was India’s Independence Day. Having grown up on a steady diet of flag hoistings, patriotic song and drama competitions, special sweets distributions and always either Gandhi or Roja and lately Lagaan on TV, Independence days away from India feel a little less independent like. I miss seeing the tri colour every where from cars and buses to even at butcher shops. Radio stations not playing  A.R. Rahman’s rendition of Vande Mataram seems odd. This is my 5th independence day away from India, still I can never get used to the glaring absence of everything patriotic that envelops India about this time of the year.

What perhaps made this year a little bit more hard was my son’s reaction to the Indian flag. Having previously on many national holidays, pinned the St. Lucian flag on to his shirt, he assumed I was pinning the same again and was evidently confused when he saw the tricolour instead. As though to reassure himself, he then quickly started singing the national anthem too, St. Lucian anthem that is. He also sings the national song and pledges allegiance to St. Lucia everyday. I don’t have an issue with any of these but realising that Lucia might be more home to him than India might be, stung.

Perhaps I am being silly but it kinda shakes me that he will not get goosebumps the way I do when I listen to ‘Bharat Humko Jaan se Pyaara Hai’  or that he might not feel the surge of adrenalin quite the same way we do when we see Team India on the cricket ground. He might not get defensive when his foreigner friends talk about cows on Indian roads or feel nostalgic during festival seasons. As much as I instill the Indiannes in him, I’m sure I cannot match the ‘India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters..” that we pledged everyday in school nor can we I recreate the group singing of the national anthem after the last period of class.

I think I gotta make peace with the fact that as long as we continue to live outside India, a piece of our land will forever be lost to him. Still, I’m sure he will make many new memories of India and being Indian. They might not be even a tad similar to mine, but as long as India is present in his psyche as an element of pride, I’d rest happily.

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2 thoughts on “Being Indian

  1. Having been born and raised in the West, I certainly would say I don’t have the same level of national pride for my parents homeland as they do, but I’m still proud of my heritage, our customs, our clothes, our music, our food, and traditions. I’m sure your son will grow to love being Indian, but it’ll be a different kind of love from yours…more like a long distance relationship but it’ll still be there.

    • Thanks for that reassuring comment. It’s more about the knowledge of your roots than perhaps patriotism as I put it. It would be unfair to ask you to be patriotic towards a country you were not born or raised in. I was just worried that India would disappear in his psyche and that so many memories that I have about India and Indian-ness would be completely lost on him. I’ll take the long distance relationship, as long as there is a relationship, I’m cool! 🙂

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