Where Are You From?
Tell people to stop asking where you are from. Because that’s a place that just happened
On the face of it this is a really simple question and I’m sure there are people who can answer it with great precision.
‘I am Natwar Kumar Singh from Jullunder district of Punjab. My home village is Dhina and my hone is Kothi No, 38B on Jhandu Taukat Lane just opposite the water tank. My parents both still stay there, and my father is a retired Government Official from the Post Office Department where he was once chief of the Telegram section.’
This guy is really from somewhere. He has a home that he can see clearly in his mind. It has three stories and he used to live with his brother on the second floor. From his room he could see eagles landing on the water tank, and sometimes he would even spot Guddi the neighbour’s daughter drying her hair on the verandah.
Now it’s my turn.
I am Shivjeet Singh Kullar. I was born in Palam, to a Bengali Mother and a Punjabi father. I spent my early years in Hindon, Jodhpur, Patnankot, Adampur and Wellington – all Air Force stations. Then I was shipped off to study in Ajmer to study. Somewhere along the way my father died so I went to Calcutta to study and begin work. Now I am in Delhi and live in a rented house so have no permanent address.
So you tell me where I am from. I have no frikkin clue.
I did have a sort of childhood home on Chowringhee Road in Calcutta but they tore it down to make multi storied apartments so that was that!
That’s why I have no idea what to say when people ask me where I am from.
We can take this to an intellectual level. I am from a neo modern background with some strong feudal influences and secular tendencies
A biological level – I am from my mother’s womb but they cut the umblical cord so there is no proof left.
An aadhar level – I am from my finger print!
And I can hear the spiritual ones amongst you send calming thoughts like ‘you are the child of God. You are from the universe.’
But that doesn’t really work. Because everyone wants a place. An exact place.
At a bar when everyone is three drinks down and a hot woman suddenly talks to you, her second question is ‘where are you from?’. If you are serious about a girl and go home to meet her parents the first question is ‘where are you from’, it actually seems more important than ‘how much money do you have.’ Even if you stand for elections, a million people want to ask you where you are from.
So there are only two options you have.
The first is like Alex Hailey who wrote a book called Roots. He traced his family back about 500 years – went right back to his father’s father’s father’s father or something and pinpointed the exact continent, country, region, town and village where he was from. So if he was asked where he was from he could stand tall and say ‘Mhangatpwnyavey’ and that would pretty much shut every one up.
The second option?
Tell people to stop asking where you are from. Because that’s a place that just happened.
And instead ask – where you are going to! Because that’s the place that will make you who you are.