Opinion

Shillong: The Home That Never Was

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I was reading an article on scroll.in, shared by a friend on Facebook. This small piece of writing was initially meant to be a comment on her post but when I started putting my thoughts to words, it became too long for a Facebook comment and in fact became a culmination of the thoughts that the respective article managed to congregate, in my mind.

For the original article, please follow this link.

I grew up in the traumatic 90’s and the early 2000’s. Even as a kid, more importantly a non-tribal kid, being called a ‘Dkhar’ (an outsider) was a very normal thing in the beautiful Scotland of the East. Children tend to have their own quarrels but them being of the racist nature, at such a tender age speaks about a cultural conditioning drowned in hate.

I remember the incident discussed in the article and I also remember the shattered glasses. It was like the Scotland of the East’s very own ‘kristallnacht’, except that it was in broad daylight. The social ostracization of the times, of the non-tribal was no less comparable to the ostracization of the Jews in Nazi Germany. There were designated areas in the city of Shillong where the non-tribal population started staying and there were the areas where non-tribals would never even set foot for fear of violent retaliation.

Those were times, when most of the non-tribal population was uncertain of their sense of belonging – we did not know where we belonged. We had been in the Khasi Hills for so long that we barely knew any other place to call home and yet we did not belong here.

To be frank, it is because of this that I still do not like going home – for I don’t have a sense of belonging. I have been to a good number of places and also stayed for a good amount of time in those various places but I have never had a sense of insecurity elsewhere which I still do when I go home – That is my conditioning that I have imbibed over the years. But then again home is home and my complexities arise when I cannot associate the idea of home to anywhere else either.

This is an alternative discourse which is most often than not ignored in mainstream discussion, for obvious reasons – the non-tribals, their population being so small, do not form a deciding factor in politics and hence don’t matter to the opinion leaders and law makers.

It’s been a decade now and things are definitely improving but mutual suspicion and distrust still exist. The designated areas in the city still exit but yes exploring the other areas within the city have definitely become easier.

I do not hate for hatred will only create more of it, but I do definitely know, I do not belong there either. I am still looking for a home – please do let me know if you find some place fit for me.

This article originally appeared in the ‘Laments of a Lunatic’ by Subhajit Paul.

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