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Winter 1998, Volume 15.1

Poetry

 

S. S. Moorty


S. S. Moorty (Ph.D., U of Utah) is Professor of English at Southern Utah University. His work has appeared in many publications including
Hinduism Today, Middle East Times, Journal of Indian Writing in English, and others.

 

Who Am I?

I am brown
I am different
from the white and the black.
I am Dravidian, a word as
difficult as the origin
of the universe.
Now I'm a hyphenated American;
I speak English
with a discernible accent.
It's not Southern Utah accent.
It's not South Indian Brahmin accent, either.
Oh! South Indian accent
is perhaps rooted in Telugu,
Tamil, Kannada, or Malayalam.
Or, is it a composite one;
the composite one that is
further nurtured by your
school, teachers, and peers?
While I was in South India,
I was still a minority:
Because I was a Brahmin
Because I was not rich like Reddys or Kammas.
While I was in New Delhi,
I was still a minority.
I sharply felt it so then.

First, my name gave out;
second, my Hindi was tinged
with a clear South Indian accent;
third, I was a shade darker than the fair Punjabi;
fourth, I was brighter than the others
in my mixed Indian circle;
fifth, I was able to speak their tongue,
while they couldn't my language;
it was exotic and foreign to them;
sixth, for that matter, they couldn't even pronounce
my mouthful Godly name.
Seventh, I was cultured and
knew Gita and Shakespeare;
saw popular Bombay movies
and attended Krishnamurti's
discourses on metaphysics and theology;
missed no major classical concerts
or dance performances—eastern or western.
Yet I was different for being poor.

I am what I am.
Why should I be like some one else?
Even my brother is different.
We share the same parents.

I am brown
I am different
from the white and the black.
The Upanishads say
"Tat Tvum asi."
"That thou art."

 

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