“I never knew I was bahun” I said to my dad, a few weeks ago. “Well not until 10 years ago, I never did know.” Bahun is a Nepali Brahmin caste. My dad smiled a little; perhaps he thought I was jesting. I do have the knack of saying whatever is on my mind. “What do you mean?” he asked.
I went to a boarding school as a child, in the North East Indian state of Sikkim, which is mostly Nepali, Tibetan and Lepcha populated. Even my early schooling was inside the Gurkha Army Barracks, where ‘bahuns’ were a minority. Until 10 years ago, it never occurred to me that I was a bahun and that majority of my friends were Gurung, Tamang, Lepcha, Bhutia, Limbu etc. They were just names to me.
“I just didn’t know!” I cried out. I knew he didn’t understand what I was trying to say. “We were just friends, we were just people. There was no difference.”
A while ago, a family friend of ours had updated her facebook status. She had overheard a group of black friends in the train talk to each other. One said, “When I was little I didn’t know I was black.”