There’s a lot of talk of knowing your ‘roots’ and having a cultural identity and so on and so forth. And for a while (probably even now) I felt quite inadequate because I didn’t have one culture that I was a part of. Despite “belonging” to Kerala…I’ve spent the least amount of time there, and my malayalam is broken and colloquial, learnt from the people in a Northern Kerala village, that seems to have, in its own speech, adopted a mix of Tamil, Tulu and some form of crass Malayalam that my other relatives despise and my friends laugh at.
But you know what I just realized (well, not just realized, but realized just before the realization I just had) was that I love it. Not my Malayalam. Not that I don’t love the way I speak Malayalam. I love how I don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere at all. I love that I can say “ki naekka tui!” (Bengali; roughly translates to “what a drama-queen you are”) in the same breath as “manga toli!” (Malayalam; literally translates to “skin of mango” meaning something like “bullshit”….don’t look at me! * shrug *). I love how I can reminisce fondly about the Marina Beach in Chennai with as much nostalgia as I can miss the cleanliness of Chandigarh. And yeah, of course sometimes I envy people when they sit in a group, all from one place, and talk about the movies they watched when they were growing up or use words that I couldn’t understand the meaning of. But I wouldn’t give up this confused mishmash of cultural identities that I have for anything!