I know I am black. And I know I’m African. But it was one incident that made sure I could never forget my identity, if I had to live in this city.
It was an October night in 2008 and I thought I had nothing to worry about walking down one of the popular streets in Pune. I heard some commotion. An Indian lady was injured because of an African guy; he had later offered to take her to the hospital and pay for the treatment. A huge crowd had gathered and they were demanding money. I knew from experience that I should not interfere and keep walking. And yet, just by the mere coincidence of being there at that time, and just for being black, I was first surrounded and then assaulted by a group of 15 people. “All of you Negros are the same,” they said, as they beat me up with sticks and stones.
I spent the next three days in hospital. No policeman agreed to register a written complaint, nobody even agreed to call it a case of racial crime.
Since then, I am aware every moment of who I am, and where I am. Four years and another attack on a fellow Burundian later, I would still say not all Indians are the same.
(As told to Amruta Byatnal)