I have often said (numerous times to myself and a countable times to others) that other than cancer, immigration is the most dangerous and soul crushing disease there can ever be.
This past week I have had numerous moments that mattered. But not one of them made it to my blog because my vessel in which I dip my pen to get some ink to write was empty. It was barren for a few days. It was so because I was reminded of my identity and status in this country – as that of an Immigrant once again. And that sucked all my ink away. It took me a few days to get a refill. No it was not that “in your face” brutal. It was subtle as it always is. I know as time passes by one tends to forget these woes, and life brings more opportunities that outweigh these unfortunate happenstances. But what do I tell myself in the meanwhile? The simple answer is – “I could have done nothing to reverse the course of events.”
No it is not a big deal that I could not jump on an opportunity to travel to three countries I have always wanted to visit, for work.I am sure there will be plenty more opportunities to go to Japan, Singapore and Switzerland in my lifetime. Neither am I doubting my abilities to get such an assignment the in the future. I am just sad because I experienced a sense of elation and depression in a succession of a few seconds. And that feeling is very hard to forget. As I was discussing the flight options with my seniors on the team, I just stopped talking all of a sudden. I took a long pause and told them I need to talk to my immigration attorneys. I let them know that I don’t think this will materialize. I knew the answer my attorneys would give me at that moment.But I bought some time. More so to console myself. In a day’s time the verdict was out. I cannot get my visa stamped in Switzerland and will have to fly to India to get stamping. That adds more days to my trip and the time away from my project. Nada.. you immigrant will stay here and serve your sentence.
Self inflicted shame is more painful than one imposed by the society. And as an immigrant, I cannot help but feel that sense of shame all the time. I cannot write and make any money off it (not that anyone is willing to pay me for my crap) because I can only have one source of income from my sponsor. I cannot start grad school to pursue a subject because then I need to switch my status to F1? I cannot take more than three months of maternity leave (No I am not pregnant) on H1B status. There is stuff all around me that discourages me from living my life the way I could have had I been in India. I don’t even know if all of this is true. But such fears plague my thoughts.
I am not saying that India is perfect. It has its share of woes and I know I can possibly not work in that environment for a long time. What I am saying is that my status as a resident in India permits me to quit my job for a few years and pursue photography and I cannot do that in the US. As an Indian resident I need a visa to travel all over the world. But I know that when I return it will welcome me back and not ask for a stamp in my passport that proves my eligibility to enter my country.
Of course as we grow up we start looking at life as a whole and the whole is always greater than sum of its parts. And as a whole my life here in the US is so much better than I could have had in India. (Disclaimer – this comment is not about India, but for someone like me living in India… there is a difference. Defiance is not welcomed in India and I was born with a wee bit of excess of it. I am compliance deficient and that is not that common in India either).
I used to use words and phrases like – not fair, unjust and why me as a young adult. I no longer seek refuge in these words. I just embrace the facts and keep moving on..