My experience on discrimination

PK Kendy Pamei: Having been the migrant worker from the North Eastern part of India is indeed challenging. The day I left my school, it was always a dream to get a prestigious job and work sincerely in any part of the country. It was in the month of August 2008 that I took the most challenging task and decided to move out of NE for my higher study and such I took my first flight all alone; at that time all I could utter was my native language Meiteilon, English to some extent and my local dialect such as Liangmai, Rongmei etc. I was confident beyond my own capability believing life is as easy as NE. After 4 hrs of my first journey (exposure to the mainstream India), I landed in Delhi, the gleams of Metro life first set in my sight but my first words which I vividly remembered was "tingthiu mawi de" (it is so hot), clearly unaware of the world that awaits me outside the airport.     Countryside kid, innocent and very quiet by my nature in most case, never for a second thought that discrimination would be the scariest things the migrant students or workers are facing. The first encounter of racial discrimination (as I assume a kind of discrimination) was during the first week of my college, where few students started to look at me with their envision eyes, then the real challenge came when my fellow mates asked, How does China look like? With no intention of hurting him I smilingly replied, bring me the world map I can show you how it looks like. We had a good laugh and slowly some started to ask me if I am from Nepal, China. What I eat, how people dress, to every question, "I don't know" was my only answer but never forgot to tell them to ask me about Manipur alone. During the final exam an external professor came for my viva. He asked me where I was from, stunned with his question I answered him that I hailed from Manipur. But he don't stop there, again he put forth another interesting question, is Manipur a part of Assam? That's the moment I realised Indian education system should also emphasis on the North East part of India. However, unwillingly I told him with my sarcastic answer that if Manipur had been part of Assam I would have told you that I am from Assam. Defeated by my answer he groaned and utterly asked stupid questions for which I lost my temper and told him on his face that I don't care if I pass or fail but to be sincere 'you don't deserve to be a professor'. As expected I failed.   Manifolds of racial abuses and discriminations were thrown to me as it was done to many others Northeastrners but slowly I learnt that the more I fight the more I will be targeted at the same time, it was best assumed that such hurdles can only be overcome by self endurance rather by counter attack. As a Christian the source of my strength to overcome, comes from the bible, bible never teach me to live tooth for tooth, sword for sword rather ask me to show my left cheek if someone slap on my right cheek.   We from the North East are sometimes to blame for the discrimination, retrospect the life that most of us are endorsing in metros (some may not be happy with my points). We start to endorse western dressing however we fail to realise we are in socially conscious society; we start to live like movie stars but fail to realise where we come from; we spend like a billionaire but fail to realise how our parents are begging from doors to doors for day to day survival; we start to dress to expose our body but never realise the people around you are looking at us like a hungry lion ready to devour; we talk like a big boss but we fail to see that we are tiniest of the tiniest, the number goes on and on, how much we need to hear to wake us up? I am not professing as self righteous or perfect, but the most arrogant and imperfect among all the NE but I can proudly say I am far more safe now from what we call racial discrimination. Movies/ books/ history/ news has taught us in many ways that discrimination is part and parcel of our life, the world most devastating war WWII can be aptly attributed to racial discrimination, having said this it doesn't mean we should let other abuse us or discriminate us, we should fight back but how do we fight them back? Should we use our muscle power, law, police? But the question is, what if we change ourself before others could sees the flaw in us, would there still be discrimination or do we still need to fight?   We can change from the church, social media etc, how beautiful it is to see our women folk going to church or social gathering in our traditional shawl, mekhela with a combination of nicely touched make up and high heels. What if we stop posting indecent photo, stop passing lewd comments. To change from good to bad is the shortest and easiest path but the reverse is the longest and toughest path. Recent statistic released by Delhi police has shown drastic rise in the number of rape, abuse, discrimination, suicide etc among the NE. It is sad to learn we are moving backward rather than forward.   It's time to let the world learn our identity, our dignity and our culture, we need to stand as one and walk hand in hand. Let's stop being Chinky, Bahadur, being sex prey, being fake stars but let’s show the world we are the descendent of head hunters, who live with dignity, who respect each other, treat women with love and care.    

The articles in this column are compiled by The Naga Blog administrators.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Naga Blog.