Being me. Not!

It was one of those lovely winter mornings in Delhi, when the sun was almost warm on the skin and a cardigan sufficed. I was a pre teen, exactly a pre teen in fact, and was to participate in my first ever inter school camp. It was a one day event and my (then) best friend and I were two of the few girls who'd been selected to participate from our school. We were pretty excited! And oh, that participants from the very famous boy's school that was our neighbour, but remained elusive because of a huge strategically placed cathedral, were also going to be there made us objects of envy of our seniors and peers, and that was gooooooooood!

So we were all split into teams and the fun began. Quizzes, debates, JAMs, Shipwrecks, Ad Zaps it was super duper! After a good lunch, we came back for the final session. The teams (there were about ten) were to pick two students from each team and those two were to address the gathering by introducing themselves and their ethnicity. Following which they were to identify some unique traits of their heritage and share it with the group. A celebration of our Indian diversity, they said.

Most of the students in my group were North Indians, so the weight of the assignments fell on the fragile shoulders of a doe eyed Bengali girl and a black eyed, (really) short haired, dark- ish Tamil girl! Now, I understand that the 'doe eyed' might be a cause of confusion (=p) So, I will clarify that it was the Tamil girl that was me!

We were the seventh team to go up on stage and I was racking my 12 year old brains for cultural uniqueness, when someone else from the sixth team came up on stage and introduced themselves as Tamil and proceeded to rattle away everything that I had managed to wring out of my neurons regarding my cultural heritage. I told this to the senior boy who'd picked me and the Bengali girl. He was senior to me, but he would have been what, fourteen or fifteen at the max! So in his panic, he just said, 'be someone else'!

Applause. White polished canvas shoes squeaked as I made my way to the stage. My throat was dry and mind pretty numb, because apart from being myself and being oxymoronish, I didn't really know how to be someone else. And whooooooooom?!! Anyway, I caught sight of my best friend in the crowd, who gave me a big grin and two thumbs up.

"Hello, I'm so and so, and I'm a Goan" I said with all the genuineness I could muster. My friend's grin changed into something I would only understand later. I proceeded to exemplify my Goan-ness by saying how much I loved to 'pardy' and that I loved to fish and eat it too. And I proceeded to my current day embarrassment, so spin tales, very stereotypical ones I'll accept, about being something I wasn't.

A pat on the back by the senior boy and other members of the team and the conclusion of the camp later, my friend, with a very hurt expression on her face asked me why I'd lied to her about being a Tamilian when in fact I was Goan.

Innocence once did exist!!

1 comment:

Divia said...

Hey Oxymoron im back! school nowadays is worse than college! rare commodity - innocence

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