-Day Three. Maybe I should explain that weird nickname now. Especially now that you know that I am a survivor of depression. SlumBeast. Seems immature and silly, well it probably is. Here’s the story. So I grew up (6th to 12th grade) in a small town called Winchester, VA. I was the only Indian in my high school and at the time I felt really good about it. Not in the sense that I identified with my future, but it was cool. People looked at me like I was a museum exhibit. They wanted to know my history, my language, and what I ate. I felt popular, I felt like people wanted to actually see me, and it didn’t matter if that meant it was only because of my ethnicity. Sophomore year of highschool the movie Slumdog Millionaire came out. It got immense critic praise and it made waves in the film world. People were fascinated with the story of a young boy from India who rose up from poverty to achieve the unthinkable, become a millionaire. Of course I had been bullied before, I had been called Sanjaya because of that guy on American Idol, I had been called that guy from Simpsons, and the newest was now I was called Slumdog.
This was different this time though. No matter what I said or did, nothing could shake the joke. I would say something and immediately I would be met with references to the movie. “What’s the answer to this question Slumdog?” or “What was it like to grow up in a culture that doesn’t have working toilets?” I had grown up in America, they didn’t care though, all they could see was my brown skin. The worst part? This wasn’t some Nazi bully. These were my friends. These were the guys that got straight A’s. These were the guys that were popular, funny, smart, and loving. LOVING. And yet every time they looked at me they called me Slumdog.
Well one day I got sick of it. I wasn’t being acknowledged for my true identity anymore. Even some of my teachers had joined the club and started to call me Slumdog in the hallway because they thought I liked it. It was lunch period. I was sitting with my friends and we were going on with our daily antics. At one point the situation became the typical. Someone made a joke about someone being poor and the rebuttal was “at least I’m not as poor as Sulmdog”. I was sick of it. I could feel myself getting angry, and I never get angry. I usually cry and separate myself, but now I was angry. I looked at my friends, probably with tears in my eyes, and I said. “No.” They looked at me with puzzled faces, and I said again. “No”. I continued when I got the strength and I said something that would change my life, “Listen, I’m a person. I am not this movie character. I am not this stereotype. I am Andrew. And if you guys are going to make fun of me, let me at least come up with something that I want. Let me choose my own identity. From now on, I am no longer Slumdog. If I hear it, I’m not going to respond well. Instead, I’m SlumBeast. Because I chose that, not you. I did. I am me, and I will be who I say I am”. And my speech was met, well it was met with the most anticlimactic response I had ever received from a motivational speech. All I heard was, “okay cool”. But that didn’t matter. From them on, I was who I said I was. I was more than just a movie stereotype. I was more than just a poor Indian. I was something else. I was SlumBeast. Thanks for listening,