I come from a family who have been in Madhes for four generations.
The people like us are ethnically known as ‘Pahadiyas’ in Madhes, although my father doesn’t know which ‘Pahad'(hill) his forefathers came from.
He always called himself a Madhesi, and has a Madhesi ‘Mita’, whom we call Mitbuwa.
Dad, despite our continual requests & pressures never wanted to settle anywhere except on his 6 Kattha land in a Dham in Madhes.
I grew up in Madhes, where my Madhesi friends used to tease me with a rhyme:
” Pahadiya Bhut Khatta me Sut
Tohar Gand Marbau Chul-Chul Mut”
I didn’t know any equivalent of their rhyme my 1st language. So I used to feel really pissed off. Later, I started retorting to their ‘Dohori’ by replacing the word ‘Pahadiya’ by ‘Madhesiya’.
I was the smallest boy of my class, naturally, a good target for bullying.
One of my Madhesi friend was very protective of me. His name was Binod Paswan.
I used to go learn swimming with him in a nearby pond.
There too I needed Binod’s protection.
I wonder where Binod might be nowadays. Being a Paswan, a Madhesi untouchable caste, he might have left school, and joined the Maoists, or now the Jwala Singh.
Whenever I think of Nagendra Paswan, I’m reminded of my best friend Binod Paswan.
Back to my father. Thanks to the threats from the armed groups like Jwala Singhs, & seeing so many ‘Pahadis’ killed, my father fled finally from his cherished land some months ago.
While fleeing lamented to his friends & relatives that ‘Janaki Mata’ didn’t allow him to stay in her place.
The Kathmanduites call him a Madhesi because of his Madhesi ways of speaking & dress-ups.
The Madhesis, influenced by the post-colonial world view, define themselves through the discourse of ‘otherness’. They complain that they’re in perpetual identity crisis in their own homeland.
True. Very True.
But what about my father who still calls him a Madhesi, and wears both ‘Pahadi’ Topi & ‘Madhesi’ Dhoti ?
What about his land where a communal flag is proudly grounded?
Isn’t he in an ‘Identity Crisis’?
What about me?
I, too, never called myself a ‘Pahadi’ & always stood against Kathmanduites’ discrimination against the Madhesis.
This is not a story born out of fantasy. Anyone can verify it authenticity.
Hence, I never called myself a ‘Pahadi’, & now I disagree with my father.
I’m not a Madhesi as well.