Thursday, April 7, 2011


I think I can understand how a child of divorced parents must feel.

Choose one or the other, they are told. You can live with one and the other you can visit.

It is about as hard as choosing between your right eye and your left.

I did not become a citizen of India by choice. That was thrust upon me. But it is mine. I am proud to come from a land of such richness of culture and tradition and yet those things are part of what irritate me the most too. The US I chose to be a citizen of.

I remember at the swearing in ceremony, the judge, the son of Polish immigrants recalled his own parents' swearing ceremony years before. And he said, addressing the crowd of people from over fifty countries--'you have all come from a variety of lands,' he said, 'and now you must leave behind--emotionally--that land for now you are citizens of the United States. I don't mean you must forget where you came from or leave behind your culture or the richness of what you have left behind. No the US is richer because of what you bring to its melting pot. But the identity of it as being who you are must be left behind for now you are American.'

I remember feeling a little put off by those words but now I see that what he said makes sense in that it makes it easier if one can put certain things behind and move on. I thought all those 'Namesake' like identity blues were not mine. I was beyond that. As an adult immigrant, I had my values set, in place. I could truly belong to both places, be a dual citizen in all senses of the world.

And now, living in India and yearning for Chicago, I am lost for the first time in my life in a dilemma that has no easy solution.

Yes I am a dreamer still filled with the nostalgia of my relatively idyllic growing up years in India and seeking an India that sometimes comes so close I can taste it and yet in many ways remains so elusive. My husband assures me such a place does not exist. It does but those encounters of what I love about India although immeasurably wonderful, are fleeting. Or maybe I just don't know where to look.

And now I am torn between my two 'parents'. I love them both and yet it seems I must choose to live with one and have the other only with visitation rights. And I am not liking it one bit.

I know I must choose.But I cannot. It would so easy if I hated one or the other. I only dislike things about each--everyday life is so easy in one, so hard in the other. The idea of bringing up kids seemingly easier in one, an unknown for me in the other.

I love things about each. The smell of fresh bread baking and fresh ground coffee in one country, the sounds of ankle bells jingling in another, the relief of hearing 'may i help you' and knowing I'll be helped in one, the sight of women in colorful outfits decked out in jewelry walking along the streets with a gait one can only envy in another. The divine taste of tandoori fish and seek kakab accompanied by cooling fresh lime juice in one, the soaring sight of the Sears Tower in another, the warm sun in one, the wonderful snow in the other. The list is endless.

How am I supposed to choose? Is there any way these parents of mine can be brought closer together? Is there? Is there?