Where were you born?
Nagpur (in Maharashtra).
But you’re not Maharashtrian…
OK, where did you spend your childhood?
Calcutta/Kolkata (in West Bengal).
But you’re not Bengali…
Yup. Though I know the language very well, and love the food and movies.
OK, where did you grow up?
Bombay/Mumbai (in Maharashtra again).
I do know a fair bit of Marathi and also Gujarati, as I lived there for a long time.
Wait, where are your parents from?
Dad’s from Vellore (in Tamil Nadu), Mom’s from Chennai/Madras (in Tamil Nadu again).
Hmm, but you’re not…
Ya, not Tamil, though I know the language to a decent extent, although I’ve stayed here for only three-odd years.
Then, your ancestors…?
The Arabian Peninsula. They moved here centuries ago. (At least, that’s what my mom told me.)
Ah, so you’re…
No, I don’t practise Islam. If at all I follow the precepts of any faith, it’s Buddhism.
Seriously, man, where do you belong?
Seriously, man/woman, the answers to some questions just don’t come easy. Especially today, with the world shrinking, with people moving out of their cities/states/countries for jobs/marriages/better lives, with the children of these unions identifying more with the city/state/country they are born in than the one their parents/ancestors were in, with people who moved for work coming back later and not being able to connect with the current state of things, with people who left for better opportunities never coming back but never being fully accepted as residents of their new places… With the way the world, lifestyles, and people’s aspirations and challenges are evolving, questions of identity and belonging are no longer easy to answer. At least not for a growing many.
So, maybe, it’s best to not answer these questions. Or maybe to answer them in a different manner – through a new way of looking at it, a new perspective. “Melong”. It’s about “me” (and not my parents/grandparents) “belonging”; it’s about where I feel I connect, rather than any city/country of origin/domicile; it’s about which place I believe best defines me, about where my soul belongs…
So, now, where do I “melong”? Ah, that’s for another post…
Now, what’s Irfictionary? Find out in this post.
Incidentally, ‘melong’ is also the Tibetan word for ‘mirror’ or ‘looking glass’. In the context of this post, it fits perfectly.