In Search of My Identity
Who am I, really? I have tried to understand this many times.
I have numerous identities depending upon where I am placed, or, whom I am being related to: I am a daughter, a wife, a mother – my relational identities. I am a friend, a neighbor, a fellow citizen – my social identities. I am a Bengali, a Hindu and an Indian – identities that I have assumed since my birth. My body structure says – I belong to Homo sapiens, my xx chromosomes clarify further – I am a female; and being on the planet Earth – a Human Being.
Am I really a human being simply because my body structure says so? Just because I don’t walk on four limbs, or, because I have a formal degree in education? “Does my attitude, behavior, sense of responsibility exemplify the fact that I am a human being?”, I ask myself. The answer makes me feel mostly proud, sometimes puzzled, even skeptical at some other times! I am trying to find out through all of this who I am.
Surely, I am a small part of this world, with a unique existence. I have some shared basic emotional quotient with all of you. I laugh or cry with you for same sort of emotions – when the Indian team wins or a near one dies, at the success of a child, or the plight of a parent. My identity is an extension of yours’. When a rape happens my heart fumes or cries in utter helplessness. It surely does bleed more from the bitter helpless attitude! When a white and hilarious joke is cracked, there remains no difference between my math teacher’s giggle and my giggle! When President late ‘Dr. Abdul Kalam’ emphasized on 70% developmental politics, I felt he spoke on my behalf.
Sometimes, I feel that my identity is a mix and match of you and myself. When Durgapuja knocks, Bengal calls me; during Diwali, Delhi becomes my favorite destination. On a particular day, if I visit a Gurdwara, a Church, or a Monastery or a Masjid, I become one, for whom the basic identity is more important than the religious one; who believes that irresponsible and blind faith is detrimental for human development. It curbs our creative thinking and natural abilities. My identity connects with you. Apart from obvious differences of heredity, it also disconnects with you – on how I think, how I absorb certain ideas, how I deliver my duty and how I represent myself to the world. Still, you are an imperative part without whom my wholeness is incomplete.
My unique identity is the creation of this balance between you and me – between these connections and disconnections. It creates ‘ME’, who has her distinguished emotional baggage and intellectual capacity. Who, like you, belongs to a family, a society and a nation. The more I travel to the core of my identity, the more I connect to my root; the more I merge with the outer world, the more I connect with you within. I am both rooted to my base and exposed to an open invitation of the world, its new ideas and their responsible applications. I have a vast land of freedom between you and me, between my base and the outer world that needs to be explored and cultivated to coexist peacefully, to live and let others live. I like to enjoy that freedom without any fear, till the moral, ethical and legal boundaries are not crossed or compromised in the name of my gender, religion, caste, social establishment or political inclinations, much less in the name of power and money – two destructive tendencies that hinder the natural and legitimate progress of our race. I need to trim wild freedom by conscience, much before it is tamed by rules of law. Maybe then, I will see worthiness in my identity.
Let that unique identity reflect on my character and conscience, duty and accountability. Let my identity reflect on the respect I practice for others… and more importantly, that identity that I have created for myself at the back of my mind. I believe that is my true identity – never hidden from myself. That is my permanent identity recognized beyond my possessions or position, caste or religion. Let us live among our younger generations much after we leave the world, through this immortal identity.
– Mrs. Monidipa Misra
The Citizenship and Cultural Richness course at the St. Stephen’s College is happy to inform you that it welcomes articles from registered scholars to be shared on its website (sscgc.in). This effort is to help disseminate ideas, experiences, stay connected and, more importantly, will help us translate ideas into concrete action. Articles should be of about 1500 words, typed and may be mailed to email@example.com.
Prof. John Varghese