I am 22 years old, and in the last 6 years, I have lived in 5 countries (including my own), and travelled to 6 others. The continents I'm yet to visit are Africa, Australia and South America. For nearly 5 years, I haven't lived in my country for longer than 6 months. So the question of the relationship with my country must truly be a curious one.
Do I love India?
Do I hate India?
Do I not care either way, whether I live there or not?
Do I love India, but would like to live elsewhere?
Would I rather live in another country?
Will I return?
What do I feel about her? This grand country, older than time itself, seasoned by many saints and wise men and women, peppered by different regimes - kings and princes and princesses, who is this woman? I am miniscule in comparison to the grandeur of her history, her wisdom, and her beauty. I represent a small, tiny part of who she is - yet I am part of her, all the same. I am one of her millions of daughters, and one of thousands who chose to leave her for a while. But I believe I will be one of the few, perhaps amongst hundreds, who choose to return to her - to the womb that gave birth to me.
Yes, I am proud to be who I am; even if I am indeed only a microscopic part of her grandeur. I love my country dearly - the chaos, the noise, the colours, the joy of the people, the sadness of the people, our festivals, our celebration of life and death, our firm belief in truth and divinehood, our memories, our families, our soil and farms and villages, our children and their games, our debates and arguments, our intellectuals, our fools, our wisemen, our divinemen - all this and more, I love about India.
While I am proud, I am not always happy...India is complex, and not to be taken at face value. I am ashamed about the many evils that were committed and continue to be committed on this ancient land, by its people - The Gujarat Massacre (2,500 people were killed), the value of human life is so less - remember the ship breaking yards of Gujarat, our discrimination of muslims, our attitude towards women and relationships, the whole caste problem (and the debate of reservations), and bureaucracy at all levels of administration.
But will this deter me from returning, change my mind? Not in the least, although it reminds me that there are problems in my country - but which country does not have its share of problems? If we were all cowards and decided to stay in a safer environment, then the world will never change. And so my mind has not changed since I first left for Singapore in 2002 - I will return to India. To live and to work there.
And yes, I care dearly. I care too much - I want to make a difference, and I also want to enjoy my life - fortunately, India can afford me both. Year 2009 will see my return, when I will begin my entrepreneurial and non-profit projects - it will be a most memorable time indeed.
Image copyright: 2007 Europa Technologies, 2007 NASA