Maa…I visualized a dream, that was full of cream; not of some edible pudding but of the cakewalk of life I was doing. I know you’ve always been very inquisitive; so to evaporate away your curiosity, I’ll simply confess that it’s tagged as a ‘cakewalk’ ’cause I learnt a myriad ‘baby lessons’ (as you call it) throughout my journey.
Lately, when I was strolling through the yummy topping of my ‘life personified cake’, I underwent inestimable nostalgia attacks.
Remember the phone call of October 29, 1929, Maa? The ‘Black Tuesday’ really turned out to be an indispensable nightmare of our lives. ‘His’ words still echo my ears, “We cannot undertake the consequences of The Great Depression anymore, and so you, along with a twenty eight thousand and twenty six members are fired!”. But, the omnipresent could probably witness your condition, Maa and so my boss uttered those last words before hanging up. His making me stand on the pedestal of ‘credible employees of the Tata family’ was sure heart-swelling but, offering a proposal of a production manager all the way in India, was a ray of hope that was ironically impractical.
I sadly recall how you and Dad got into an unavoidable argument as to whether we should wait for the ‘Depression’ to die down or just take a safe ‘elope’. The negotiation got so subtle that my inputs seemed quite immature back then.
Hats off to you, Maa!!! I know you wouldn’t give an ear to this but yes, I loved you and Dad equally; however, my respect grew for you to incredible limits that day. Your decision of ‘separation’ virtually killed you but you still wanted your daughter’s career to soar high, over your husband’s love and affection for years to come. The melancholy aura enveloped all three of us. Your last gaze into each others’ eyes was enough to captivate me in a guilt trap for life, but I knew you wouldn’t listen to me.
And, we fled to India. We were the then immigrants from the US Diaspora and felt a little ‘out of place’ or to be honest, ‘little’ is too small a word. But, who knew that the catastrophe would NOT persist long as it seemed. As soon as we imprinted our first footstep on the Indian land, our prejudices about India, its systems and its natives started to fade one by one.
I would frankly make a clean breast that I felt ‘penalized for no reason’ when my own ancestral origins subjugated me. You and I experienced untold sessions of agony when we envisaged the destination of our nightmare and the fact that it was poles apart from our source point. Taking off from a developed country and its systems, we felt belittled to have landed to a country like India, which in our eyes was still a developing or a transitory nation. It was metaphorically sacrificing the luxuries and comforts that we were born and brought up in, merely to fulfill our basic amenities in an economic context.
But like I mentioned before, the catastrophe vanished sooner than apparently dreamt of. Talking on a personal level, I grasped that India was not even an inch of how it was contemplated to be, back in the United States. All the mulled over apprehensions then gladly took off for their journey towards vain.
The first thought that struck me, was the intricacies in the Indian culture. Everybody was so well rooted in their traditions that none could interfere with the sanctity of any of their rituals. I felt like pitying myself then; the ‘kirpan’ in Sikhs was a major concern of contention back in my Californian school. And to further add a feather to the hat, the Indian women’s traditional attire with the vermilion dot on their foreheads was taken as a sign of ‘otherness’ in our native community, while the reality is that they were just being loyal to their culture and portrayed no such intentions of ‘otherness’ as we wrongly perceived.
It’s unfortunate that I am saying this about my own country, Maa but America always mistook the prefix of ‘developing’ to be ‘poverty stricken’ India. True that! But, India isn’t impecunious like we perceive it to be. There is an inconceivable majority of indentured labor here; not because they aren’t skilled but solely because they believe in the ‘tangible’ hard work. They are implausibly disciplined in their tasks. That reminds me of Dad once quoting to me, “Bloody Indians are the most unpunctual species on this planet”. Today, I wish to whisper it to him that they aren’t unpunctual, they are just so helpful and giving that they prioritize helping the visually impaired to cross the road over their utmost urgent ‘patent finalization’ meeting.
Their selfless attitude is worth genuine admiration, my fellow Americans! Post the World War II, it were mostly the Indians who bestowed upon priceless help in reconstructing the war-torn Europe. And, how can you forget the unbelievable transformation of the physical landscape of the Middle East that took place totally because of the Indians’ contribution.
I refrain to recall as to who made me believe that Indians were against the western natives. The matter of fact is that, probably they are the only creatures who do not mind mingling with new phenomena and cultures. They screen Hollywood movies, read and watch English news, love being around the ‘whites’ (Sorry for being racist, Maa) and the list is endless.
It’s ironic that WE mind being called ‘Indian Americans’ but we have to term ‘them’ as ‘American Indians’; rather we should be proud on having heard the former.
I would be failing in my duty if I do not thank you, Maa.
My relationship with the Indians faded to shine and shrunk to grow.
India is now the only door that I’m free to knock, without seeing the clock! 🙂