Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jottings: Slice of life - 4

Jottings: Slice of life
To have a child born on American soil is a dream of many young Indian parents. I met a neighbor yesterday as I was walked back from Target. He seemed in very cheerful mood. Normally, apart from perfunctory greetings, we have not exchanged any decent conversation worth the name in about ten months we have lived together in the same block. But yesterday, he shook hands vigorously and insisted we walk together.. During our conversation, he revealed his life-story to me. How he transitioned from a BPO role to software, how he struggled to Learn software programming, how he got a break into a decent company, How he met his wife and how he got married. In ten minutes, he summarized ten years of his life. I was very impressed with his achievement until this point, and then , he said “ It was our dream to have a child born as an American citizen? My wife and I are so very happy. She is in the family way now…”.
I stopped in my tracks for few seconds and gasped for breath. It was then I realized that I have seen his wife walking around our community with bulging stomach and loose fitting clothes. I replied “ Wonderful, congratulations !!!”.
“Thank you sir..” - he said..
“ If you don't mind, Can I ask you a question?” - I politely put forth this request and didn't wait for his answer but continued “ I understand the joy of becoming a parent, but I find it difficult to understand how an American born baby is different from any other..? Or how could your joy have differed if he or she was to be Born in India or elsewhere? I am sorry, but you see, I don't have children. So find it difficult to appreciate your dream..
He was puzzled a little : “what sir, the baby will be an American citizen. Isn't that great. All of us struggle to get our Green card and residency, the child will have no such problem “
It was my turn to give him a puzzled look “ Kiran ( name changed), yes, you are right. But what difference does it make.. Your child is your child, whether he/she is an Indian or an American. And I don't think they come stamped with citizenship.. Well, if they happen to be born here, well and good. But I don't think I can share your specific happiness about they being born on American soil. Do not get me wrong!!I am happy that you are about to become a father, but if you insist you are happiness lies more in the fact that your baby is destined to be an American citizen more than anything else, then I am sorry, I beg to differ..”
Our community gate loomed in front of us, and we parted ways. Kiran was not very happy with my response. But frankly, I find it very difficult to comprehend such attitude. There is no doubt the America was and is a land where Dreams can come true. Egalitarian society, freedom to live by ones convictions, ability to channel oneself in chosen direction, great education and opportunities - all of this is true, but what troubles me is that it has become a fashion, and in many cases a meticulously planned affair to raise a family in the US. Many postpone having a child in the hope that one day eventually they will be able to do in America. Over the last seven years, even within the microscopic region of my community, I have seen innumerable couples settle in, and within few months announce with pride their impending parenthood. Now it may be absolutely natural, contrary to what I am suggesting here, but it seems far too frequent for it be coincidental.
In fact, at least a couple of them has told me “ Sir, the thing we do when we get a visa is to plan to raise a family in the US. This country is very conducive for it..” I really don't know what they mean by it, and I do not wish to know.. Again, I am not generalizing, and may be totally off the mark. But I am sure, there is at least a grain of truth to what I am saying. In contrast to the attitude, I also do know of many parents who do not care about citizenship or other such considerations, and are just absolutely joyful that they have healthy , cheerful baby in their hands. I guess, It all boils down to question of priorities and choices.
God bless….
Yours in mortality ,
Bala.

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