“Oii, momos and thukpas!”
These are the some of the few names that we are used to, you can hear them when we are either roaming the streets of Delhi, Chandigarh or Bangalore or any parts of India. By looking at all the above words, you might be thinking that why we are called by these meaningless names. It is because of our race, we are the ‘Other Indians‘ or commonly known as Northeastern.
The people to whom such names are called are from the Northeastern region of India, we look different and we are easily distinguished from the rest of Indian due to our small eyes, short stature and fair or yellow skin.
It is also said that the Southeast of Asia starts from the Northeast of India and the reason is very clear. The eight states resided at the corner of the eastern region of India are full of people that they are regarded as foreigners by their own countrymen and it is all because of their different looks and their languages, we are commonly mistaken as either Chinese or Nepali.
Once, I was traveling from Himachal to Delhi, and fortunately, I was the only Northeastern in that bus. I was used to all those glares and stares thrown at me as I have traveled this road many times. I remember, a boy of 20 or 18 years old was sitting beside me. He was constantly switching his eyes to me and his phone, I smiled at him as I have to travel hundreds miles with this stranger and ignorance would be a sign of disrespect. Surprisingly, he was the first one to talk, “where are you from?”, he asked. I told him my that I was from Sikkim.
“Where is Sikkim?” he asked.
And that’s how I began explaining that I was also an Indian, just like him and Sikkim was also one of the state of India like Himachal Pradesh. All I could get in response were his nods in time to time, but his another question made me lose faith in human’s understanding capacity.
“Do you use the same currency as us?” he asked.
This is not the first time I have to explain my identity to people, most of the people have experienced the same thing. One of my friend even asked a permission from the teacher to do a presentation on the Northeast India, he took an hour explaining that we were also Indians.
IDENTITY CRISIS, is the best word and facing it in our own country is an irony.
There have also been complaints of abuse to the Northeastern people, and it’s not a new thing and many of them have taken it too far, some lives were lost too.
As a Northeastern residing outside my state, I am facing these problems too, but thanks to many organizations that are creating awareness and creating hep lines, to help those who are in need, but this is not enough. How much explanation must we do to make them understand? How many rallies should we do holding placards trying to aware that we are also the citizens of India?
I hope the day will come when our brothers will see us as one of them and not call us dog and snake eaters.