I write because the struggles of immigration grieve me in a personal way, a way that for a long time divided my family to near disrepair. Despite this, I believe my very conservative Christian, Indian parents attempted to understand why this American-born Indian girl had to do things a bit differently than what they had planned. And what I wanted was exactly the opposite of what had been customary for thousands of years. I, a female, wanted to do whatever I felt like doing.
Often, the shame related to making independent, very “American” decisions has led to heartbreaking consequences in some families and particularly for females. These endings are often preceded by children of immigrants desiring to adapt to American society while balancing Indian roots. These endings are also preceded by parents quickly becoming disillusioned as they begin to see the land of milk and honey for what it really is. Sometimes, it doesn’t receive families with open arms or flowing vats of opportunity. It is a place that takes far more than it can ever offer – hopes, time, a longing for family back home, culture and many, many tears. But above all things, it wants their children the most.
Some might believe I write to shame my family, and in essence, the Indian community, as we’re a highly collectivistic society. And in fact, allowing a look into the private lives of a collectivistic society is like waiting to be exiled. However, I write because if I don’t, relationships may be broken forever and families may be destroyed. Lives may potentially be lost.
I was once watching a video of author, Arundhati Roy, advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable of India. After it ended, I scrolled down to read words of praise for her efforts and her work of fiction, God of Small Things, which clings close to the often unspoken truths of India. But as I continued to scroll I saw far more comments addressing Ms. Roy with vile, demeaning adjectives and even death threats written by brutish men raised to despise females, to view us as nothing more than insentient things to be assaulted of body and spirit to their liking.
I don’t doubt opposition. Some might even say I shouldn’t be allowed to share my accounts of Indian culture, maybe that I should be banned. I should know where my place is. I should be silent.
And this is precisely why I write.