There was a particularly vicious comment left by anon on one of RD’s posts, which got me thinking about this whole ‘being Lankan’ business. Seems like many people have an issue with someone calling themselves Sri Lankan, if they don’t currently live in the country. I remember reading replies to comments left by N on political posts that say non too clearly that, if you don’t live in the country, you don’t get to have an opinion. Over the summer someone said something similar to me, why should I care since I don’t even live there anymore.
Quite frankly, I have trouble understanding the reasoning behind this. Do you really think that just because you leave a country, you can forget or ignore where you were born and raised? Or just because you weren't born someplace, you can't call it home? That the place where you’re family is from, and your blood, isn't home? If anything, I find that being away makes me miss home more and appreciate everything more; the food, the people, the places, the atmosphere. If anything, it’s made me strongly patriotic, and I wasn’t one to begin with. I read the news more, to find out what’s been happening at home; I talk more when someone asks me what it’s like there; I remember more every time I leave.
The issue of nationality and identity is very personal, I feel, and is different according to the individual. For instance, I don’t really like to consider myself Sinhalese anymore, since there seems to be such a disparity between Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim. I’m Sri Lankan through and through, and that’s all I’ll ever say. I also hear the ‘oh now do you think you’re American’ line. No, I do not. No doubt I’ve adopted some aspects of the country I live in, and I make no apologies for it. I enjoy cultural assimilation; I enjoy the combination of two or more cultures and the twists they give each other. The world would be a far more interesting place if we didn’t insist on forging singular, specific identities, and learnt to incorporate the world into ourselves.
So I fail to see how one person tries to assess whether another is Sri Lankan or not. What makes one person ‘more’ Sri Lankan than another, and how can you even quantify such a thing? Trying to insult someone by using the ‘oh you’re not even Sri Lankan’ line, is about as lame an insult as you can dish out, and to me, it just portrays your inferiority and lack of self identity, and complete ignorance about what being Sri Lankan truly means.