I am quite a melange when it comes to my ethnicity.
When I moved out of my parents’ home to Hyderabad in my early twenties, I realized what I truly felt about my ethnicity or roots. My Telugu was not as fine as the Hyderabad locals. I had a strong Oriya influence in my Telugu accent. “Are you a Telugu or a Bengali?, “Where are you basically from?” are questions that always put me in a difficult spot. It came very naturally to my coworkers and friends to brand me as a south-Indian or a Bengali or because of some things that came by default in my identity. For example, my initial S. in my name speaks loud about my South-Indian background or my accent that I probably picked up from my school or my hometown; a bindi that I chose to wear very often on my forehead.
No matter where you come from, the community you grew up with will have an everlasting impact on you for the rest of your life. My roots are the family that raised me, my parents, siblings or people from my neighborhood who aren’t blood-related that might as well be. My roots are the experiences that brought me here, the ones that pushed me to get through life and encouraged me to chase what I truly love to do. My roots are the friends that became family somewhere along the way. A few of my close friends’, boyfriend’s personalities, cultures, interests also rubbed off a little on me. The music, art and interests I have pursued in my prime years of youth have become an integral part of my roots too. All these things together have led me to a place where I am right now.
Every day, I make new choices, go through new experiences, and feel different things in different lights. I absolutely love where I am right now in my life, but I don’t regret growing up in the place that was my home for the majority of my life. Just because my current life and my now feels better than the past, doesn’t mean I have forgotten where I actually belong. I am never going to push my roots out of my memory. My roots made me, me.