Monday, November 27, 2023

The experience of moving away from the homeland—how different it is now

 A friend's buaji (aunt) is thriving in her 80s and is in the process of cleaning up her belongings. I was fortunate enough to receive two sarees from her treasure. She moved to Houston after getting married, perhaps in the early 60s, transitioning from a young India. I wonder on what she must have gone through—a new life in a new country, culture, environment, and, above all, being so far away from everything familiar, including family and friends.

I observe the contrast in the last 27 years of my life away from the motherland. It initially felt like an opportunity, but at that time, I couldn't envision eventually becoming a mother, managing my household, raising my children independently, navigating life on our own, and not having the support of extended family during challenging times. I didn't know how to plan or think differently because I lacked guidelines—what to look for, save for, and plan for—everything was unknown. So when I think of Buaji, I wonder about the kind of transformation she had to undergo. She didn't have the luxury of the internet, Facebook, WhatsApp, or any easy means of connection to understand what to expect.

Yesterday, our taxi driver in Dubai was from Pakistan. He initially came for a two-year stint to earn money. Fourteen years later, he continues to live frugally, works excessively, saves most of his earnings, and goes home every year for two months to be with his wife and now 7-year-old son.

I couldn't help but wonder how his life is any different from Buaji's or mine. Though we've traversed different decades, aren't the three of us somewhat similar? The feeling of not fitting in, of not belonging, or simply living in the present while keeping the fear of the unknown at bay?

What's your story? What were you thinking? What would you do differently?

A saree from Buaji’s closet, chosen for a festive get-together. Many women, sharing a similar state of mind, come together to celebrate festivals, keeping India close to their hearts.

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