Rajiv, who works in a reputed software firm, was born and raised in Patna, Bihar. He moved to New Delhi in his early 20s, leaving all of his friends preparing hard for IAS. He says that he has suffered a lot of discrimination in Delhi because of his accent, which is eerily similar to that of Lalu Yadav in his younger days. “The best way to deal with a trauma is to levy it on others. It’s the common human psyche,” he says. And hence started his hatred for his own people.
Once an extraordinarily smart kid with a beautiful mind, Rajiv (or Raj, as he calls himself now) found it emotionally taxing to fight off stereotypes of being a Bihari since he moved to Delhi. He stopped eating with his hands, and had to resort to using spoons and forks, even for eating roti-sabzi. He stopped putting on mustard oil and middle-parting his hair, and switched to spiky hairdoes with the “sexiest” of gels. He is now suffering from dandruff and hair-loss.
Rajiv also had to switch from a mild-mannered polite man to rude and haughty, just to convince people that he does not belong from the land of Pataliputra. “Biharis are the most unhygienic people around,” he shouted at us when we visited him. “They don’t have any manners; they are illiterate. The other day in the metro, I saw a Bihari staring at my touchscreen phone and asking his friend what is there in my hand! And, when he saw a big shopping mall on the way, he was so amazed that he tried to open the metro gate to get out! Biharis are dumb. And I am not one.” His words were punctuated with uncivilized Hindi gaalis that he has learnt from learned Delhiites.
Some of Rajiv’s friends tell us that long ago, he used to talk to his parents and relatives for hours on the phone. Now, he doesn’t even pick their calls, referring to them as “an embarrassment”. Rajiv has also started visiting pubs and discos, and smokes two packets of cigarettes a day to prove to his peer group that he is no more a Bihari. Apparently, anyone who does not smoke or drink is labelled as a Bihari by him. The guy has also stopped bathing regularly to use more deo and smell good.
He even has a reputation of being a casanova and a flirt now, after he ditched the love of his life, who he knew since 7th grade, to prove to the world that he was not a “lame loser lover”. We caught hold of the ex-flame, Gayatri Kumari, who hails from the town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar. “He hated the Bihari tag. He asked me to dress skimpily… in short skirts and high heels to look like a Delhiite. When I refused to give up my traditional clothing as I belong to a respectable family, he got mad and dumped me.” He apparently called her a “Biharan” to mark the break-up.
Rajiv’s firm stand on the matter leads to a great division among the people from Bihar residing in big cities—those who think the Bihari tag is a curse as it leads to disrespect and discrimination, and those proud of being called Biharis, who are proving to the world their worth by their hard work and talents. Which side are you on? Is it fair to stereotype and hate a community? And, before Bihari readers erupt, we wish to tell that the writers of this post are also Biharis.