Sunday, July 03, 2011
Happy Anniversary. And, Happy Birthday, America
So, yes, anniversary greetings to my parents.
After gaining American citizenship, the Fourth of July is, of course, way too special for me. To quote from the musical, West Side Story, “I like to be in America, okay by me in America.”
Perhaps it is a typical immigrant emotion after all when I think that my love for this country is out of the ordinary because I consciously weighed the alternatives and worked to come to America. The American citizenship was not my "birthright."
Immigrating to America or any other country has never been as easy as it is now—unlike a few generations ago when most of the world’s population stayed at, or close to, the places where they were born and raised. Now, we move from state to state in this country, and with relatively little effort we migrate across international borders, and make ourselves new homes in strange places.
reputed Indian university.
If grandfather had sailed on that ship, for sure my family’s history would have taken a different turn.
However, he was compelled to reject that offer and stay back in India.
It was not because the job did not pay enough--the offer was apparently a phenomenal one. But, his mother, who was deeply rooted in traditions, threatened to commit suicide if he went too far away from her!
Ah, mothers, without whom psychiatrists will be jobless :)
The distance between my grandfather's hometown and Ceylon’s capital city, Colombo, was nothing—a mere 250 miles. In contrast to that, a few decades later, I travelled half way around the world, in order to be here in the US.
In my case, my mother cheered me on.
In an interesting irony, I left India on its independence day--August 15th. So, I now have an addition to the family joke: I gained my independence the very day in 1987 when Indians were celebrating the anniversary of self-rule and the end of the British Raj :)
And America has been home since the day I landed in Los Angeles.
Happy Birthday, America!