Every morning I see white american kids going to school in groups of 3,4, 5, laughing, chattering on their way to school. In contrast, I and my son walk to school, looking at them, and wishing that we also had a group. I see my 7 year old son looking at them as he walks to school alone, dark haired, light-brown skinned, as I watch other Indian kids also walking to school alone.
I chose my life here in USA and came to know first hand what it feels like to be a minority community. White neighbors look past you, when they walk on streets or break into a half-hearted smile and a greeting. “Hello”, they say and walk-on. I wonder at their lives, and wish I could be part of it and know through their eyes, the real America, the country I had wanted to be part of since a child. I grew up watching Hollywood movies, hearing American songs and grew to love the freedom, the culture, the spirit that embodied America. My favorite actor in my college years was Patrick Swayze and I had wanted to meet him when I came to USA. Of course, that dream never realised. In India, I could never identify with my Indian community and culture, always felt like an on-looker, and was excited to go to USA. Now so many years later, I realise that I am just an on-looker again, looking into a society which I can never be part of. Esentially, I was doomed to be alone, never to be part of the Indian culture, or the culture which I chose, which did not want me. Westerners who are in love with Indian are glorified as Indophiles, but me, I would probably be vilified as a traitor, as a wanna-be westerner. I however, believe, that we are what we want to be. Every country and culture has an underlying subtle trait and some people are just not part of that trait even if they are born into it. Sometimes you go to a completely unknown place and feel that yes, this is where you belong. So, I understand why I am the way I am…neither do I disparage myself, neither do I want to be anything else, because I am what I am, though I know the world is not at a stage where it can understand this fully. Because the world cannot look beyond color, it cannot see a person’s soul. Cannot see that we humans are alike/not-alike in our thinking and our spirit and not what our ethnicity is. Sometimes people from similar ethnic backgrounds can be vastly different, while people from different ethnic backgrounds can be so similar. Yet, we close ourselves to these possibilities, thinking we cannot cross-over age old doctrines grilled into us.
So now like me, my children are doomed to the same fate. They have a few Indian friends and one or two not-so-close american friends. Friends who come to our house to play with them, but whose parents never bother to call us to their homes and whom I also try to not to impose on too much. Maybe just an occasional call wishing Happy Christmas, or Happy Thanksgiving.
I keep wondering what their future would be, as social outcastes, living on the periphery of society. Wonder whether living here was worth it, or was it better to live in one’s own country, although in my heart I was never part of it. These questions haunt me every waking hour when I am not busy or in the night when I lay down to sleep and yet I dont see any escape. Don’t know where we are going or what we are going to be like, what my children will be like, but there is no way out, no end to this desolate road, this lonely journey we have undertaken…