“Achha Madrasi ho…lagti to nahi ho!”
The other day, just as I got down my cab in the evening, there was this lady probably in her 60s, staring at me continuously with something that can partially be called a smile.. I almost ignored and took a few steps ahead.
“We are new to this place. Just shifted this afternoon.”
“Where do you stay?”
I pointed to my second floor apartment, just as she tried scanning it through her macroscopic eyes.
“Achha…top floor it is. We are right in front of yours…the first floor in this building opposite yours.”
“Great! Good to have you here.”
Considering this being my first ever meeting with her, I had already felt I’ve spoken for a bit too long. That too when I’m dying to get back home, dump my dhed sau kilo ka backpack, wash my hands and face and hug my lil girls. I believe it was probably me respecting her age.
Just after this, she followed me. Just when I was heading to climb up the stairs, she again queried.
“Which place do you belong to?”
Uninterested, I replied, “I’m from Kerala.”
The remaining conversation made me go bonkers.
“Achha Madrasi ho. You don’t look like one.”
“No auntyji, I said I am from Kerala, not from Madras which is in Tamil Nadu. Adjacent state it is.”
“Arrey haan…they’re all the same. But you are fair.”
I was almost about to fall unconscious, because that’s probably the first time someone said that I am fair. 😛
After this she went on, without any need to be prompted.
“Madrasi people are ‘black’ (not even darker in complexion). Though they have long hair, it’s all made messy with Gole ka tel. And they speak very bad Hindi.”
My response to this has earned me a definite place in her bad books, probably the ones which she might be burning soon.
“Aunty ji, aap zaroor Punjabi ho?“
“Nahi to, we are from Rajasthan. Kshathriyas!”
“Arrey aunty, they’re all the same. They are fair in complexion like you, have non-messy hair, a meethi-choori kind of tongue and so much time in hand to take the census of the local residents. Also, at least Madrasis try and speak to you in your language. Have you even tried learning a few words of Madrasi?”
Auntyji didn’t even utter a single word and with a frown rushed back to her first floor apartment. Grass wouldn’t grow through the route she rushed back. 😀
And then we talk of racism across the globe!
This country can never prosper without people accepting the simple fact that Madras (Tamil Nadu) and Kerala are two different states. And so are Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, though these four states are collectively referred to as South India. Just like Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal, UP and the rest of the North Indian States are collectively known as Northern India. Just like West Bengal (which has always confused me about the location of this state), Orissa, Assam and few more are collectively known as Eastern India. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and the few islands are collectively known as Western India. Our people need to spare some time and see the underlying truth that all these states belong to the ONE country called INDIA. Unless we identify our people as ours, nobody else is going to respect our identity as an Indian.
Grow up, Auntyji! And instead of wasting your time knowing the lungi-to-langot about your neighbourhood, poking your nose into other peoples’ affairs, utilize your time to take Geography lessons from your grandchildren.
I guess this was the only time I felt bad about looking fair (to the lady). I was once again upset about having shorter hair, but thankfully messed up completely to match the Madrasi trait.
I feel bad about such people, because they do not budge even a step while uttering such meaningless nonsense, without you having to forget all the good manners and respect for elders lessons that your parents and teachers taught you.
I know my Dad would still blame it on me and say, “Now, what’s the different between the two of you?”
Sorry Dad, but I couldn’t take it any more.