A Fijian Life, An Indian Heritage

This is Where I Stand in Fiji

Something I wrote last week on this blog got a lot of flak. And not just on my opinions. While I can understand the strong reaction to what I had written, I can’t fathom the personal comments and insults that went around on social media especially by people who have never met me.

If you’re one of those people who judge someone based your assumptions without actually meeting them in person then I’m afraid what you think is really your business. It serves me no purpose to stoop to your level and respond to your pettiness. However because what I wrote about is important to me and because I owe it to the many regular readers of this blog, I’d like to clear some things up.

Past

My Indian heritage is important to me and I admit it’s a recent realization. Though it’s not entirely my fault. Ever since we started school, virtues of tolerance and multiculturalism have been shoved down our throats. And I feel the Indo-Fijians have politely been on the tolerant end for the longest time. This 2014 elections revealed how important their i-taukei identity was to the indigenous population of Fiji and to the extent they can fight to protect those rights. Somewhere along the line, Indo-Fijians got short changed. In pursue of a fair and equal Fiji, they forgot to protect their own unique heritage which makes Fiji Indians some few very special people in the world. The Girmit period and the Girmitiyas are not part of a shameful past that has to be forgotten but a triumph to be celebrated. This doesn’t mean I live in the past and haven’t moved on with the times. It just means my past is where I have come from. It’s a reminder everyday to be grateful. And it needs to be told.

Now

But that’s my past and don’t judge me for my past, for I’m a shorts-wearing, flip-flop dragging, na sona-swearing, Fiji Gold-drinking citizen of this country and I love my Fijian passport to death. I live in the balmy outskirts of Nadi, not holed up somewhere overseas writing this with my socks and heater on. I pay taxes in Fijian dollars and the smarter I try to be to save some up, the quicker FRCA catches up and charges me twice over! When I’m not traveling around the world (with the money I’ve paid taxes on), I work. I eat the same semi-rotten potatoes and onions from MH as everyone else because we really don’t have a choice. But then by choice I also eat corned mutton ’cause I love that shit! So you see I’m not really going ‘to go back’ anywhere because this is where I am. And where I belong.

Why the Modi hate? Because I was pissed off. I watched an interview during his election lead-up where Modi stated his party’s stand on welcoming Indian diaspora back into India if they were not getting equal citizen rights in their own country. I saw the interview during the Fiji elections campaign when certain political parties were openly advocating racism and I think it created a godfather like effect on me where I was falsely convinced that there was a bigger mothership looking out for us Fiji Indians who remained back in Fiji. So in that frame of mind, I excitedly, full of hope looked forward to Modi’s visit. So when there was no reach out to Indian diaspora and a jam-packed 12-hour stopover with squeezing in a meet of other South Pacific leaders, my bubble popped. Think about it, why would someone who is the Prime Minister of a country where almost 30% of the population live under the poverty line (30% of a billion people i.e.) give us $75 million dollars? You think about what $75 million dollars will cost the small minds of Fiji’s leaders tomorrow. Yes, you think about it because I’m too pissed off at my own naivety at the moment.

Forward

And so this is where I stand in Fiji. This post is not an apology nor do I regret writing my previous post. Neither is it to ‘seek attention’. But it is imperative that I reach out to all those who took so callously to my piece. You are certainly entitled to your opinions and of course you can share them wherever you want. But not at a discredit to this blog. Unless you know the story behind this blog, the years it’s taken to build and what it means, you are not entitled to tarnish the reputation of my work by your inability (and sheer stupidity) to distinguish between an article and a blog post. (Annnd you can’t really tell your facebook friends what an awful, sad person I am without actually knowing me!)

*

If you disagree with anything written on my blog, I would to love to connect with your side of the argument! You can:

  1. Directly comment in the comments section below. (email address required)
  2. Comment on my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/whereisshyamni
  3. Or send me an email – whereisshyamni[at]gmail.com

 

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