I remember once, when I was only 8 or 9, playing with a new group of children in the street. One child had a peculiar question for me that he would keep repeating. “What are you?”.
My childish mind didn’t quite understand the question, blowing it off as a simple joke, answering that “I am human”.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I truly realized why the child asked me that and why the other children actually had answers and I didn’t.
The kid wanted to know my cast, my place of birth, my sect of religion. The child wanted to know where I classified myself in the long listed hierarchy of desi blood.
There was no correct answer, because over the years I would be asked this question many times, by many different people. Some, even relatives, trying to teach me the “correct” answer, according to them.
You answer, what they want you to answer, you answer in agreement, and then you follow.
Those are the rules laid down to us. If you are told from birth that you are a Muhajir (Immigrant) then you must always remain under that banner and hiss at anyone who tells you other wise.
If you were born into the “holy” Sunni sect, then that is where you must always align yourself and follow through with sub-sequential hatred for your Shia counter-part.
These were all rules to be taught to us throughout our growing lives, and still manage to live through after so many years. It is the result of having no real union in culture, the only true thing we can pass down to the upcoming generation is hatred, hatred for the same beliefs and people that we see unfit to our way of life.
We may not directly see it being established but sure enough it lives on in all our homes. The cultural banner of hate being passed down from generation to generation.
They may all seem like completely normal people but any given day one may simple subtly listen to a conversation where people are referred to as “khatmals” (bedbugs).
Or while being taught to drive one may suddenly be given the instruction to never let the “Pathan” rickshaw driver over-take them.
These are all the minor things we teach our up and coming generations so that they may be subtly ingrained in their heads. The older generations may have passed but their teachings always live on, in a form of screwed up horrible respect of their hateful wishes.
Racism and ethnocentrism, may both very well be running in our blood, but its only up to us to stop it. Stop your parents, uncles and aunts before their “everyday conversations” leave an impression on their growing children. Stop those outgoing men who tell the kids on the street why they mustn’t hang out with the kids from the “Pathan” family. Only when we fix them can we stop this flow from reaching us.
If we simply choose to ignore our own family elders when they go along with their romps we may even one day find ourselves casually involved in a conversation about how the “Biharis are people whom we simply cannot trust” Fix yourself and your family before you yourself become responsible for the birth of yet another generation of hatred.