The ones who are almost lost and lost for ever and
the others who are almost lost and have almost recovered.
"Ma, why is Malar's tamil accent different from that of ours?" Maanu asked her mother.
"They are refugees Maanu. They speak Tamil that way in their place.", replied Shanti to her 7 year old daughter.
"Who is called a refugee?", Maanu inquired.
"Refugees are people who abandon their motherland and seek help from the neighboring nations." Shanti tried her best to explain Maanu.
"Why do they do so ma?" Maanu did not stop.
"There are many reasons Maanu. You will get to know when you grow up. Now hush and get on the scooter." Shanti ended the conversation.
Chandran was back home early.
Maanu turned away from the TV screen that was showing a brand new episode of Captain planet.
"Daddy who is a refugee?"
"Refugees are people who are forced to flee their homeland for safety. Like Malar and her family."
"But Murugan says that we do not belong to Tamilnadu. Are we refugees as well dad?"
"We are not refugees Maanu. We are a sort of immigrants", Shanti interrupted.
"What is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant?", Maanu raised the next question.
Shanti explained how their forefathers had migrated from Andrapradesh* to Tamilnadu* for business during the reign of a Telugu ruler in Tamilnadu and how they had eventually settled here becoming a part and parcel of the Tamil province. She also described how Malar's family had escaped the clutches of death and fled to India from Srilanka.
"What is the difference daddy? " Maanu posed the same question to Chadran as she was not satisfied with her mother's answer.
"Refugees do not pay taxes Maanu but immigrants do. Refugees are given reservation for studies but immigrants are not. Immigrants flee as refugees when a civil war breaks. Malar' and her family are called Tamil immigrants in Srilanka but they are considered Srilankan refugees in Tamilnadu. "
Daddy couldn't have sounded more confusing. Maanu resumed watching Captain planet.
Andrapradesh - A south Indian province where Telugu is the provincial language Tamilnadu - The southern most province of India comprising of Tamil speaking population.