“Who am I” is a difficult question to answer to oneself or to others.
I have a name, a family, a position, certain status or lack thereof in life, owner of worldly possessions etc. But can the question “Who am I?”be answered fully by referring to any of the attributes referred above.
Before attempting an answer this question let me bring in another perspective
One thought that it is easy to even answer a simple question question that others often ask us “Who are you?”
Yes, we do answer but are our answers same or consistent all through our life.
Let me explain.
To find an answer to the question “Who are you?” don’t we need first find answer to the question “Who am I“ ? Because unless I know who am I, how can I answer the question “Who are you?”
However, it is only after or around the middle age some of us seriously start looking for answer to the question ”Who am I?”.
In real life we provide different answer to different people depending upon the stage of our life as well as when and by whom the question “Who are you ? was asked. This is because no serious thought has been given to find an answer to the question “Who am I?”
As a child we are son or a daughter of our parents, member of a family, or resident of a village or a resident of some part of a city. As we grow older our identity and our answer to the question “Who are you? “ keeps changing.
I was born in a farming family in a small village in Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh in India. Since our village home was under a huge Pipal tree we were known as “Pipre tar ke babu”.
Babu was a endearing term widely used and applied universally. I was called Babu by my parents, grand parents great grand father and other family members.
My son too was initially called Babu and now my grandson is our Babu.
My family was known as Pipre Tar ke Babu meaning the Babu or elders of the village who lived in a house under a Pipal tree.
To any one outside our family any member of our family was known and addressed as as Babu. But I couldn’t answer the question “Who are you?” by saying “I am Babu”.
Because if more than one of us from the our family was present it became imperative to be identified individually by a name or a nick name. I was called Shail babu and my uncle Munna babu.
If someone asked me the question “ Who are you?” I had to be careful as the answer couldn’t be “I am Babu” even though every one called me Babu!
We were all Babus!
For some reason my father was called Bengali Babu not Jaibax Babu. When I grew up I was told that my father had hair that made him look like a Bengali. My grandfather was called Bhaiya or a brother.
This was because my grandfather’s younger brother Vindhyachal Babu (whom I called Baba) Used to address his elder brother as Bhaiya every one started addressing him as Bhaiya not only the family members but and later as my grand father grew older every one in the village called him Bhaiya. Even my father and “I” his grand son both called him Bhaiya! He was known by the name Bhaiya in the village A’s also among our relations residing in other villages.
When I moved to the city for education after fifth standard to a school in Delhi no one called me Babu. I became Shailendra to people outside the family, Shailendra Kumar Singh in official school records and Babu within the family.
Babu was superimposed by Shailendra. Uncles continued to call me Babu. Sisters and mother too continued addressing me as Babu as they do so even today. Many of my friends started calling me Shailu and their sons and grand children Shailu uncle.
Does that mean that I changed over time and depending on who was addressing me. No I am same. I remained the same. Identifier of “I” changed. Did I change well yes and no. My body has undergone change, my thinking has changed, my way of living has changed but I feel that I remain “I”.
So “Who am I ?” I really don’t know. Do you ?
Now the second part of the question. Why I am here ?
Well I will attempt to answer that question once I know who am “I”.
I hope, some day I when I find an answer I will be able to revert as these questions have made me seriously 🤔 think!