Is There any Need for Identity? by Nalinaksha Mutsuddi SignUp
Is There any Need for Identity?
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I had many odd ideas: one of them being, there should be no crisis of identity ever – in favour or against. Why we should bother about identity? What is the need for us to be identified with any group, race, creed etc? But, in practice, I find it is almost unavoidable. My face cut is like a Nepali; mother tongue is Bengali, and the surname sounds like that of a Muslim. People mistake me for a Nepali or Asamese some times. I reside out of Bengal so generally I talk either in English or in Hindi. I cannot hide my accent acquired since childhood. The moment I utter a word in English or   Hindi I get caught immediately – due simply to my pronunciation. In the major part of India my surname is taken for a Muslim. Who knows, somebody may take me as a terrorist as well. Of course, I never try to rectify anybody for their view of my mistaken identity.  People pigeonhole me as such. I cannot avoid being grouped with this or that. I am categorized on the basis of race, colour of my skin, the place I hail from, the religion I profess. The profession I pursue for a living. And so on. So is the case with everybody else.

Despite my being indifferent to such a narrow notion I’m unable to escape from it. I’m invariably trapped in the imbroglio. Once I was in the queue at Gol Dak Khana, New Delhi. Soon a Gurkha approached me blabbering away in his mother tongue. Getting no response from me he broke in Hindi “Are you not from my village?” By the time I said, “Of course, yes…” he receded fast in the background. When I was in the Air Force, one Keralite Muslim colleague put me a question, “Which mosque do you go for Friday Namaz?” Seeing me faltering, he added, “Is it ‘Na-Khoda’ masjid , by the way?” I replied in the affirmative to save the embarrassment. Still, I don’t know where Na-Khoda masjid is located in Kolkata. It is surprising my hesitation in replying couldn’t stir up any suspicion in his mind about my religious affiliation.  Sometimes, distortion occurs due to hearing problem, too. We purchased some plants from the PWD nursery at Noida. For making out the receipt I gave the name Anju Mutsuddi -- the name of my wife. At home, while verifying names of the plants we saw that the receipt was in the name of Anjuman Siddiqui.
There are many such anecdotes with my name. But, most of the time I remained a Muslim. That is also is a mystery: why my name gets often mixed up with Muslims? Some problems in life we simply cannot do away with. We need a name, a brand or an identity whatever you like to call it. Without it we will not be able to differentiate, draw a comparison, evaluate the pros and cons and exchange views with the members of the community. It has to be there that way.

A file is to be named; a program to be numbered, any damn thing needs to be perceived in the right perspective. Without that we can hardly pull on in the world.

Could it be equated with a brand name? If we do what goes wrong? In the case of mindfulness practice -- may be -- it hardly matters. It’s a word, which can stand independently and rise above the identity crisis. But some times a question may arise about the root where it came from; how it came about. Then it will lead to the source of its origin.

Possibly, we can use it or avoid it without much of harm in any way.

After all, it matters little unless we bother about it necessarily or unnecessarily. And the need to justify rests with the individual and its utility in the society with reference to particular context – of time and place.

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Thank you for the nice comment. The trouble with me, you know, I am a bit atheist. I find those who have faith are happier. So, the saying goes,"Blessed are those who have faith"

06/21/2010 08:26 AM

Comment Actually, identity is a proof of God.  Identity is eternal.  For example, take a watch, my watch.  It is so identified throughout its existence, even though it may eventually cease to function, gets thrown away, or is crushed to pieces - it will always be my watch, from that which is my watch to that which was my watch.  All things have identity which is greater than the thing that changes from moment to moment.  Identitty is a pure concept, contextually conceived.   In fact, the only form worthy of identity, if one can put it that way, is God, because, like identity, God never changes or perishes, and is so proved to be the source of identity. 

R D Ashby
06/20/2010 17:27 PM

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