It has been a long time since I wanted to write. Yesterday I met Ana, let’s call her Ana from the temple. I bumped into her accidentally on one of my visit to the temple. We met at the entrance. She said Hi!!! and then she started asking me from which part of India do I come from, what am I doing in the US? I told her I am studying here and I am from Jaipur, Rajasthan. She told me she will be visiting India for her project to make a social documentary (I forgot the topic) with renowned actors such as Hema Malini, Vidhya Balan etc. Frankly, I was not paying much attention to her because India is a place full of people with similar dreams, and also considering that she does not have money to hire the actors and is looking for funding for her documentary (which is extremely difficult).
We exchanged number. She asked me to be in touch but I never messaged her again. She said if I like I can visit her sometime. I was on my own, got busy and she came across like people who just say a lot of things which do not seem doable etc, so I didn’t even bother.
Yesterday, I bumped into Ana again in Meijer. We hugged each other, she asked me how I was doing, why I did not keep in touch with her, why I did not reply to her last message where she asked me if I would like to send my parents gifts she would be happy to take them with her for me. I would not trust a stranger I met only once to give them the gifts I bought and also share my home address with them. So I politely answered I did not have anything at that point of time.
Then she started telling her story. I would like to make a point clear at first that I like her, she seems like a nice person. She is an American citizen being here for 20+ years, but I am not. I am a student here and given the racial tensions going in America I like to mind my own business and keep my head low with regards to discussions on culture, politics etc. I refrain myself in indulging in such things. People here are welcoming, helpful, they will always smile at you while passing by.
Apart from all this, she started telling me how life has been so tough with her, her college going daughter does not talk to her, do not wish to be in touch with her and has nothing to do with her. I could sense the pain she was feeling being away from her daughter. She kept on saying this is American culture these things are not taught in Indian culture very loudly standing in the middle of the grocery store. I did not feel comfortable standing with someone who was making racial comments. But I stood there and listened to her story since she was living all alone for all these years no one to take care of her, no one to talk to, nobody wants to do anything with her, not even her husband or her three kids.
From her conversation, I could figure out that she was not legally allowed to be in contact with her kids so something terrible would have happened which led to this. She was not allowed to contact them even on their birthdays. Her kids did not go to visit their dying maternal grandmother in India. Every second Ana feels she could not fulfill her mother’s dying wish to see her grandchildren. Every second she feels there is nothing left in the US for her but how can she leave her children here alone and go back to India, who will take care of them, who will look after them, who will guide them in their career, who will give them motherly affection, what will she answer to the society in India, where is her husband, where are her kids, why is she staying back in India, why have they not come to visit her etc.
She complained a lot about American culture that people here don’t care and they would not mind living alone, taking care of themselves, teenagers living away from their parents, saying that they do not have anything to do with their parents etc. I am no one to comment on her personal life because I do not know her whole story, all I know is a one-sided thing. I felt extremely sorry for her. I wanted to help her but all I could do was ask her to not to worry much, don’t think too much etc. She was extremely worried about her kids which was justified being a mother.
People are independent here, which is a good thing. They are not afraid to live alone, take the risk in life, they are adventurous. It is something that we should try to learn from them. Every culture and every country have their positive and negative points. We should always appreciate the positives and try to incorporate them within ourselves.
Being an NRI (non-residential Indian), Ana you should have taught your kids Indian values if you wanted to see them behaving like Indian kids. You should have taken them to India more often during their vacations. They would have interacted with the family in India more, played with their cousins, learn from them and would have understood how their mother grew up, what are her roots. Then maybe things would not have turned out the way they did. I know it would have been very difficult to raise kids with both Indian and American values. They are after all an ABCD (American Born Confused Desis). I am sure it is not as simple as it sounds and you did your best.
I pray to the Lord to give you strength to deal with the hardships of your life. I wish your children realize their mistake and they come back and talk to their MOM. I wish you all the happiness in the world. See you again sometime Ana but with a smile on your face 🙂