Nearly two decades ago when I came to this country, I was unprepared and unplanned. Consider my naivety of not knowing what it takes to travel to a foreign land or my enthusiasm to get out of a place that interferes into my personal matters on pretext of love, none to disgrace my failures for having deviated from the standard template of honorable education. I missed my parents and close friends sorely. First couple of months were a huge struggle, yet I got the opportunity to be grateful for the massive support, kind words and extraordinary help when I least expected, that too from unfamiliar persons.
There was a lot of chaos about the course, the campus, and the start date of the program I was permitted on the student visa. There so many that went out of their way to help, few of whom became my early mentors, friends for life and to whose presence in my life I am indebted for. My host families (also strangers at that time but took me in because I was practically homeless) had no obligation in my well-being but they ensured that I was adjusted in this new place.
There were times when I couldn’t keep up with the expenses and stood on the edge of the Hudson River contemplating if there were any options besides walking into it. I was so ashamed to ask my parents for more money knowing that they could not match the expenses in dollars. But some good sense prevailed, and I stepped back to keep chugging along. I wasn’t an immediate triumph, but my disappointments were never frowned upon. With the newly acquired freedom, I promised myself that I will make the best out of my life. And I did.
Sometimes, I am reminded that I am not patriotic towards my motherland, India. There is no other place I’d rather be born. While India gave me my name, I created my own identity in the United States. Love there was overwhelming but here I realized the meaning of it. I was petrified of making mistakes there but here accomplishments are nothing without them. I lived nearly two decades of my early life in fear of being wrong but here I taught myself the courage to do the right thing. I was brave enough there, but here I am applauded (mostly) for being me. “America is not just a country, but a way of life.” And I am very grateful for that freedom.
#America #USA #FourthofJuly