A friend of mine, non-Indian, was telling me how to pronounce my name correctly! He claimed a certain letter was silent. I told him that in my language you read and write and pronounce in the same way and there is no difference, unlike English.
He asked me what my language is.
I said Telugu.
He asked me what my tribe is.
I asked him what he meant by it.
He said Telugu is my clan. So what's my tribe, what town.
I said I come from a city and it's well mixed up because it's a port town.
He said if India did not exist what would I call myself.
It took me a couple of seconds to recover and the conversation then continued separately in my head and in my words.
In my words I said may be probably "Andhrite".I never say I m an Andhrite. I always tell people I m Indian.
He then asked me what caste I am from.
I told him that I refuse to answer.
He said so that it meant I do not subscribe to it.
If I did, would I be here? I just said no I don't.
The conversation ended.
In my head, what would I be if India didn't exist?
I would still be Indian. I could not think of not being one. The whole idea was alien to me. Like what would be I if there were no gender or human race or what would you be if the universe didn't exist.
We do have multiple identities, but if there ever was a situation where I had to be just one identity, the Indian remains.
And now I claim a new identity.
NRI. non-resident, but Indian nonetheless!