Saturday, February 11, 2006

Identity

I like our night time terrace. After dinner, I like to spend time there. It is the place I sit quietly and think. All confusing uncorrelated, incoherent thinkings. They start somewhere take me around somewhereelse and finish somewhereelse, when they finish, if they do finish, I have often had tough time in remembering the starting point for all these cyclic thoughts I have had. Today I am with Jaya. She is getting married. “He does not even have his moustache; that is what I am disappointed about”, she complains. It brings me back from, well, I have forgotten. “What Jaya?” “He looks too young and he does not have even his moustache grown”. “Did you not check his age, I am sure he must be older than you”. “Well, he is older alright, he hasn’t got his moustache”. I smile. “Do you like him?” “He doesn’t even has his moustache”, I smile. She smiles too. “Ok, I move on. I do not like to leave our town and can’t believe some other town is going to be “my town”, I do not want to leave Kombai. I really do not know how can I take it in that Cumbum is my town here afterwards.” “You will be alright”. “Not only that he doesn’t even has his moustache”.. I hear that very feeble voice coming from elsewhere, as I slip into my ……..

I wouldn’t want to leave Kombai either. How can anyone come to terms with accepting another town as his town? But, I know I will study. I will have to marry someone with same level of education, if not better. Is there anyone I know in Kombai studying to catch up with me when I want to marry? Dayalan’s mother on the other day was hinting mother that I should address him machchaan (cousin, son of father’s sister or son of mother’s brother). I refused. He is in my class. She was complaining that he is elder than me. Aren’t you ashamed of saying that your son is elder and is in my class because he failed few years! And, she wants to hint my mother that she will be very pleased to have me as her daughter in law. I can’t come to terms with having her as my mother in law. Don’t even think about talking about Dayalan as my husband. As Nilu would say, puke. ~Yuk~. So, what have I got? Hang on. Even if Dayalan is a good guy and studies really well, even if his mother is a good woman, if I marry him, I have to go and live in his house which is in that street. That is not my street! Oh shit, I have to find a guy who is from my street. “Jaya, I don’t know whether I will want to leave our street and call some other street as my street.” Very true. I don’t like either. But there are not suitable men in our street. “What happened to your alliance talks with Sudaliamuththu mama”? “I can’t live in Seeniththai’s house. She is a ratchasi (demon)”. Jaya replies. True. Well, even if she is a good woman, if you marry her son, Sudalaimuththu mama, you have to go and live in their house. You can still be in our street, but your house changes. How can you call that as your house? When you walk past your house, well, your present house, which becomes “not your house, but your mother house”, how will you feel?” Jays looks confused and worried. Not for long. “That is why it is good to go far away and accepting will come easily”. Looks very true. She is a genius. I am still confused.

What is mine? Where do I belong? My house is my house. My street is my street. Within my street, I am an amukkana (a nick name for my grand father’s family clan) girl. When I go to Anandhi’s street, I am from my street and for some old people I am still an amukkana girl. When I go to temple, I am from North Street. There are girls from East Street as well. In some other situation, I am a Nadar girl. In college I am a non-brahmin. In some situation, I am a Maduraite. :-) Do you know there is a TMK, it means we southies, from Thirunelveli, Madurai and Kanyakumari and around areas. we southies are very good people. We value values. We respect elders. We always talk in good language. Madurai is Tamil's dear place, as there was Sangam in Madurai you know? :-) In Bangalore I am a Tamilian. In Dehradun I am a Madarasi. In Hemel I am a paki if you want to offend me, or I am a desi, if you want to party with me. There is this culture that identifies me. There is this skin identifies me. My jaw line identifies me too. How can you forget my hair. Oh love my hair. Long, silky, shiny black hair. I used to have upto my hip, actually slightly longer than that. I don’t have a photo of that, otherwise I would show you. I know you don’t believe me, my bob definitely doesn’t help does it?:-) I look gorgeous in bob Don told me. :-) . oh sorry, where was I, ah, it was my hair for some people. People have constantly told me that I am a woman. I am a girl. After all a girl. That fucks me up really. I mean really. mhuh.

Fuck the westerners. They think I am a smelly piece of shit who smells curry all the time. Fuck the northerners who think that I eat tamarind and rice all the time. They ask me how I am not bored eating sambhar. Well, I don’t eat sambhar everyday, but my question is, how are they not bored with their roti or chapathi whatever that is? Fuck the Brahmins, and their stupid dialect. They think they speak Tamil. Will anyone tell them that it is not tamil what they speak. They tell me that I don’t get “zha/la”, will anyone tell them that what they speak is bookish, because they “learnt” it rather than…. well, they cannot “understand”, they only know to mug up,… fuck the east street, what for, I don’t know, but let us say, fuck them for not being a north-street-person. Fuck the other families in my street. Fuck.. who, let us say chithi… and fuck………………………………..it is just me I am left with, so, I should fuck myself? Huh? The world is spinning fast. Everything around me is spinning fast. I see Jaya’s face, flashing now and then as it spins around me. I feel giddy. I shake my head.

“Latha, latha”, who is this? Oh it is Jaya. The sky is still dark. All twinkling. “Latha, what happened?” I don’t know. I feel giddy and my head is breaking. “Latha you fainted. What happened?” don’t know Jaya. What were we talking?”. The breeze is comforting. Some dogs are barking and I hear a man's voice trying to calm the dog down. “We were talking about my marriage Latha”. “Have you said yes?” “Oh yes. He is alright. It is just, he hasn’t even got his moustache yet. Cumbum should be alright”. She slips into her imaginary future. I see smile on her face. She looks happy. “what are you going to do?” she ask me. “Me?”, I don’t know. "I suppose you will study and your parents will have to find someone equivalent for you. You might as well, well, you WILL leave kombai, because there is no one in kombai studying equivalent to you". “I don’t want to get married”. Latha, you will definitely leave Kombai. You will leave atleast to study. Like your mama (mother’s younger brother). What happens then? He comes to kombai only as a visitor. It is not his home anymore. He talks about madurai all the time. Did you not see?” she is right. Mama has become a visitor. Will that happen to me too? What is my home then? What happens to my identity then? Who will I be? What should I cling on to? Amukkana? North street? Kombai? Nadar? Non-brahmin? Tamil? Madarassi? Paki/Desi? Rice? Hair? Tamarind? Brown? My eyes? My breasts? There you go, spinning again. Shit, this shit world spins at the drop of a hat.

21 comments:

sudha said...

and then you realize you really dont need to belong ........

Premalatha said...

That is the message.

but,
I (we all) face conflicts when I (we) contradict myself(ourselves), like here http://premalathakombai.blogspot.com/2006/01/what-am-i-doing.html

sudha said...

:) that is just natural, one day i say that i envy the chinese for go, the next day i am annoyed when someone holds conferences with themes like this:
http://2006.rsaconference.com/
us/conference/theme.aspx


you know tat one reaction is superficial, while the other is something you truly believe in deep down...figruing out which one is superficial eliminates the conflict to some extent.


reply romba overaa, latha?

Premalatha said...

reply romba overaa, latha?
nah. :)

I get a very few readers who truely understand what *I* am talking about. not that I have "many" readers anyway. lol.

some of the superficials don't leave us do they? :)

sudha said...

have always felt at home here, somehow :).

....some of the superficials don't leave us do they? :) ......

yeah, its annoying how we react to external stimuli so easily.

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Forced identities are way of life. People use them/neglect them to suit their convenience. I wonder if it would be possible to get away from these identifications and the expectations that comes along with them.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this post.

Premalatha said...

and the expectations that comes along with them.

what expectations?

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Something like "you are from such a family and cannot be doing such and such things". I think that expecations come along with the identities. (Confusing ??)

Shiv said...

you seem to have allowed sarah's experience to dramatically affect you. your language has turned stronger, from viewing your previous posts, and impressions that mince no words while doing the telling the way you see it.
it is possible that this could be a rant you have no caring for if people would stop to read, as long as you get your few minutes of rage.

i can empathize; though, better still, in many ways i can identify with you, for i grew up in madras, studied in dehradun and moved to the united states for a higher degree and work. i am not brahmin, and i lost a long time brahmin girlfriend to caste-politics. i understand your rage. i feel your pain. i share your hate, inasmuch as i know its pointless.

the trick is to remember that this world is full of turds. aptly enough, they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. when you step on on, wash it off, carry on.

Premalatha said...

Hi Shiv,

you seem to have allowed sarah's experience to dramatically affect you.

ya. I feel vulnerable these days.


your language has turned stronger,

exactly Balan's (my husband) observation. It will take time before I can get things back to normal. I am trying.


it is possible that this could be a rant you have no caring for if people would stop to read,

I am highly confused at this juncture. I don't know what I want.


i can empathize; though, better still, in many ways i can identify with you, for i grew up in madras, studied in dehradun and moved to the united states for a higher degree and work. i am not brahmin, and i lost a long time brahmin girlfriend to caste-politics. i understand your rage. i feel your pain. i share your hate, inasmuch as i know its pointless.

Thanks Shiv. But, I am trying to look beyond the hatredness. I do not hate at the moment. I do have rage. It is not the caste politics, it is gendre discrimination that has happened offline with some people I know, who happened to be bloggers as well, but, I can not come clean here. I am trying to find out, what I identifies me and anybodylese.

but, it is right as DRaj says, some things come with your identites which you cannot erase overnight, or you cannot get rid of, even if you want to. For example the superiority shown by brahmin-upbringing (no offense intended, hope people can see that). I was offended by someone who showed "I don't mind talking to you" attitude. This happened recently as well.

the trick is to remember that this world is full of turds.

I am constantly trying. but, when it is gendre discrimination, i loose. anything implying anywhere i am lesser than anybodyelse else, gets me.

my post is looking at "what exactly is my identity?" and at the same time asking people to think for a minute.

aptly enough, they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. when you step on on, wash it off, carry on.

thanks. I am constantly trying.

Anyone thinking that using sex and realted things, they can get women under their control/power, can make me loose at any time however composed or however awake my brain is. this is what happened with Sarah's incident. But, I have handled it much better, this time. i identify myself with every victim. I take it too personal. In Sarah's case, it is not wrong I identified myself with her. I can understand exactly what she is going through. I am glad she is handling it well. I am happy for her.
(some of the hypocrites might think that I might have been raped or violated sometime in the past, and that is why I identify myself with Sarah, a******s, just fyi, no. sorry to dissappoint you.)


thanks Shive. Comeback. I might have very nice stories to tell you in my forthcoming posts.

Premalatha said...

another thing that gets me is
stupidity. they don't understand/(don't care to know)it is their stupidity and their ignorance, but make fun of others and adopt sarcastic tone. idiots.

sudha said...

interestingly or rather uninterestingly , i happen to know shiv from a long time ago ....

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

Premalatha:
Just read the whole conversation today.
It is nice to know that you put yourself in the shoes of a stranger and relate to her but make it a point that it doesnt throw your life out of gear.
Do take care
Cheers
DRaj

Dadoji said...

This comment comes rather late but here it is just the same.

I hope the world stops spinning for you. The key is to spin at the same rate as the world does. Have I spoken like a true engineer? heh heh

The bottomline is....it is all a matter of which frame of reference one chooses. As Dustin Hoffman says to his son in Hero (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104412/), truth is like an onion made up of bullshit. You choose your layer and that is your bullshit. Or something like that.

Lastly, I *have* seen your photo with long hair. Dunno if they are hip-length but nice shiny black as you have described them. I will tell you where if you ask me nicely. >:)

vikram kombai said...

Hi
i never felt leaving home town s loosing identity.
becoz "changes are only permanent thing in this world"....
wen i m in KOMBAI it was my Heaven.mountain ranges,our estate, temple car,i really thought kombai s most beautiful place in the world. But wen i came out of Kombai for school and college studies, i found myself attracted to beauties of that place and their people. i stayed in posh dwelling,on the other extreme, i stayed in slum in chennai, i identified as a person of that current place.I was really enjoying the culture and tradition followed in my new temporary destination. on months passed on, years passed by, i started to love the place where i stay at that moment. I like calling me kombaite,Theni ite, coimbatore ite, chennaite,bangalorite......

phantom363 said...

i grew up in madras in the 1950s & 1960s. my role model was a guy, (though he did not know it), two years my senior. he went to the same school. he was good in sports, studies and popularity. infact a perfect allrounder. :)

he had cool parents who gave him far more freedom than mine did and i always used to look at his household so longingly. there was more trust there than in my home.

my relationship to him was a junior friend, but an affection born out of admiration. sometimes i think he was embarassed by my hero worship, as in my eyes he was a superhero, and out of his earshot i had no problem proclaiming this to the world :).

he was a calm, cool guy who did not excited about anything, unlike myself who used to get upset at the smallest provocation or disappointment. he was always there to console me. :)

our lives moved on and after 20 years i met him again a few months ago. our meeting was just as warm, as if i had never moved away at all.

i hope it makes you better to know that there are all kinds who make up the world. hope this story makes you feel a little better too.

why?

i was brought up in a brahmin household. my dear friend is a nadar. :)

cheers. :)

phantom363 said...

a couple of very interesting points about our mores.

the first is that you have brought out the suppressed hopes and excitement at the prospect of an arranged marriage, with a fair dose of nervousness hovering around. being a man, i would never know or experience such a unique female feeling.

another outstanding presentation is the attachment to one's own household. so complete is the identity, that even someone in the next street is a stranger (!). and the poignancy that my house from now on will be 'my mother's house'. :)

finally, i find this a unique indian thing that the husband has to be more educated than the wife. hopefully we will get away from it, for there are opportunities for great marriages, which may be frittered away, due to conditions which are more a product of the mindset. a good husband or a good wife is a gift, and should not matter whether either one is more educated , taller or fatter than the other.

:) totally good stuff again...and thanks..:) as you can see, i am just going through your blogs one at a time, at a leisurly pace, and cannot penning some spontaneous responses. :)

Premalatha said...

Hi phantom363,

Thank you for your comments. I am glad you like them. Hope you will get to read the rest, and hope you will like them too. They are all written in very bad english. One of my tasks is to rewrite them all in acceptable english (spell check, grammer check). Hope I will be able to do that one day.

Enjoy reading my blog(s)
:)

phantom363 said...

english is good and natural. don't change. don't apologize. :)

i hope it is just modesty talking.
don't change your english. it is sooo natural and sweet. :)

seriously, talk to a sympathetic agent. you have in you a work than most published writers. a little bit of mentoring is all you need to put everything together. :)

Premalatha said...

seriously, talk to a sympathetic agent.

That is the problem. :) No one corrects me.

phantom363 said...

there are two distinct skill sets needed here:

one is the editor: she/he can edit your work ie by simply juggling the words in your sentence, make it look 10 times better. she will not re write your stuff. this is a special skillset.

agent: for 10% or so commission, she/he will represent you to the book publisher. this is only because it is tough to get direct connection to the publishers. one name that comes to me in book publishing, and who is from your part of the world, is david davidar. google his name & see if it strikes a bell among your contacts. england is full of agents. it is the world centre of english language publishing.

one thing: never give up hope or faith. :) that is what we cheerleaders are here for. to egg you and bolster you. :)