Identity: where the sun shines

Nepal, 2009.

Roots, identity, Nation are often debated areas. Can we define ourselves sans roots? Like can I just be someone who doesn't have any linkage to a specific community or a country. Where do I find my roots? do I search for it in the half formed ideas transmitted across generations in the name of legacy or do I just chart it across boundaries.

So, the journey to find one's roots began when my father finally decided to find solutions to some unanswered questions. It was a sudden plan, I would call it an expedition for it was not just a mere trip to Nepal but more of a quest to search for our roots.

So, one fine day I landed in Nepal with my parents. I could see my father all excited, ready to plunge in the mission of finding the link which led to our ancestors. So, after a few days of sight seeing, my father decided to go on a bus ride to some district called Jhapa. After a tiring bus ride when we finally reached our destination, we stood there transfixed gazing at the endless meadows and lush green hills. I could almost hear the mountains sing aloud, I still hear those echoes. And I see a stranger but something in his face keeps me engaged, I know I haven't met him but I was not willing to believe that I hadn't known him before. He walks to us and I see tears brimming in his eyes, he says, yes, we are your people. Roots,  so that's what my father was trying to figure out and I almost could read his thoughts. That smile in his face summed it all.

So, here I was, in a distant land with strangers who claimed to be no strangers. What amused me most was about the parallel life we were living there in Assam and they, here in Nepal unaware about our existence until my adventurous father had made some phone calls and had taken the pain to carry out this adventure. They were relatives from my mother's side and it was evident from their facial resemblance.

We were given the best of treatment, showered endless love and I would remember them for the rest of  my life. How excited they were to know about our life in Assam. And when my mother insisted on preparing tea, they kept on gazing at the beverage as  if it were some exotic drink!

So, the quest was that of finding our roots. But, when I talk of my roots, I find it detached from Nepal. The urge to be at one's own land just like the diasporic writers is on a hightened scale, but, for someone like me, who has never associated Nepal as where her roots lie, it becomes difficult to define the idea of defining one's roots. Yes, I speak Nepali but I am not from Nepal. I choose to not call myself a Nepali but as 'Assameli Nepali' which roughly translates as Nepali speaking Assamese.

A guest blog post by Sandeepa Agasthi.
To read more of her posts, click here


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