Dear Mum and Dad,
I’m lying when I say that everything is all right here and that I’m happy. And I know that you’re aware of that, yet you still pretend to believe me. I’m lying when I say that I’ve had dinner when in fact I can't bear to gulp even a morsel that wasn’t prepared by you. I’d be lying if I ever told you that I’m excited about the future when the truth is I’m petrified.
Living in an unfamiliar land so far away from home, carrying expectations on my tender shoulders, trying to keep up the tranquility whilst hiding the madness -- it is not easy. Yet, the past few days got me thinking about how difficult it would be for you. The questions ‘did my child eat ’, ‘did my child sleep well’, ‘did my child tidy up her dorm’ is only the beginning of hard-hitting questions like ‘is my child safe’ or ‘is my child happy’. Let me into your secret- how do you handle everything? When will I be able to call some place home, or will I be a vagabond forever? With these thoughts bustling in my head, I don’t think I’m ready to grow up.
Here I am in the land of the free, home of the strange. Carrying hopes and dreams, but also shoving my culture, my identity and my home into my front pocket. This is where I’ll be, not for the next four years but probably for the rest of my life -- unraveling the mystery of the American Dream. As an immigrant, we’re taught to carve our own path and not walk on paved roads. We are taught to be resilient, but also kind and generous to everyone who helps us along the way. Masking the fear in our tough faces, ready to build bridges over turbulent waters. When in a dark tunnel, we don’t search for the light; instead, we make a fire. Most importantly, we were taught to be ourselves and to create our own identity, not become a shadow.
So, thank you for letting go of me long ago because I knew despite not being physically present, you would always have my back. Thank you for putting your faith in me and trusting me at every step. Because if I am strong, it’s only because of you.
Your not-so-little kid
Lead Image: Akshara Nair