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Letter from Driktso

Why did we create The Pomelo?

Because it felt like the one thing, the more I ignored the impulse the more it settled on my back like an itch that I couldn’t quite reach all on my own but demanded instant attention. After its partial conception, I have felt a bit relieved. The birth of this magazine/journal [whatever you make of it] may have been one event but for its fruition, uncomfortable events spanning the entirety of each of our lives had to culminate for this task. I was born and brought up on Indian soil, in a regular middle-class family to parents who came from relatively two different ethnic backgrounds with some similarities, both first-generation Indian citizens by birth. My maternal grandmother made her way to India on foot, walked herself through forests with no compass to guide her, all but to flee the Chinese Communist Party who intruded her sleepy village in the Phare area of Tibet. Unlike the rest of the Tibetans who fled to India, my maternal grandfather had to fight for his fatherland. He too had no compass to guide him, only but his Ku (idol of Tibetan deity) stuffed in the pocket of his chupa, which Tibetan freedom fighters carried on them believing it was all that was needed to keep them unscathed. When he walked in on Indian soil, he walked with an injured body, his Ku and no homeland to call his own. I grew up feeling like I have never belonged anywhere, to anyone or any one thing. I grew up in Darjeeling, a town in the Eastern Himalayan region, composed of people mostly with migrant or forced migrant history. I felt myself being constantly scathed with ethnic essentialising from my extended family, people I went to school with and just about everyone. Indian citizens who belong to migrant histories are lauded with insecurities of their own having no ‘son of the soil’ certification to prove their Indian-ness despite having their Aadhar linked. I was never asked to prove how Indian I was in my hometown. I was just told at home that I was not supposed to let people know that I eat beef and to never let people know about polyandry in Tibetan communities. I just had to make sure that a lot of things that were normal in my fragmented Tibetan culture had to be hushed because they did not necessarily align with the dominant structure. Coming from a minority community I picked up the cue of being the other at rather a young age. This feeling only heightened when I left home to pursue my studies in New Delhi. I had to constantly explain my roots, to be scrutinised for using reservations, and for being born to a family of immigrants and refugees. I was doubly invisibilised; first, for my ethnicity and second, due to my gender. Somehow, I stick out but I am not taken seriously. You are either resented spitefully or just exoticized, then people come and tell me they stand with the North-East of India. Each of the 8 states has their own history and I with my mongoloid features, am not a representative of such diverse people, cultures and histories in the Capital. I had Tibetan and half-Tibetan friends at school and they were the most condescending people that I had ever met. It is difficult to exist among your fellow marginal comrades because the scarcity mindset in people from oppressed classes will always find a way to pull you down. For they always believe that there wouldn’t be anything left for them if they let marginal people like myself, have it all. Because their resentful bickering comes from feeling threatened and insecure about how Bahujan are slowly catching up with them, all at their own pace. I will not in any way deny the motive of my Buddhist paternal grandparents who spoke languages that belonged to Tibeto-Burman and Sino-Tibetan family languages. They were from Nepal, with no educational qualifications and scarce opportunities they had to look for better life opportunities elsewhere. My paternal grandmother was born into a family of Sherpas. My paternal grandfather was Hyolmo and he walked on British Indian soil, the whole purpose was to look for a better life. But the difference always lies with who gets to migrate elsewhere and have the agency to write a book like “The Good Immigrant”. And who gets to cut a poor figure, constantly being told to go back to their country and not be able to produce such a ballistic book to explain their migrancy. I hope writing and getting published at The Pomelo for you, is a step towards taking up space in this society and not having to excuse yourself and feeling sorry for taking up seats in Universities and in government positions, with your quota. I hope you unlearn what people have taught you about being a minority in all sense of the term. That you write and publish a whole book one day on being ‘The Good Bahujan’ or not. Thank you for dropping by.


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