Some Perceptions

We're all so different and so diverse ' in personality, and background, race and creed, perceptions and beliefs, thoughts and emotions, aspirations and wants but eventually we all come down to being human and that means we're all the same. We have fears and dreams. Everyone wants to succeed, everyone wants to be happy. Nobody wants to suffer yet we all do. My story today is about this which helps me to make this realization.

We were on our trip to Chicago, Illinois, to attend a function at an old friend's house. On the way we faced some weird weather of storms and rain which is seldom the occurrence during early spring. Anyway, we drove through that and reached Chicago. We were guest in our friend's house who also expecting some other visitors from nearby states. But none could brave the weather and we had lots of food for dinner. We woke up after a short nap and the day started with a nice sunny but breezy morning. 

They rented a hall which is at the roof top of the 36 storied building they stay. The room is at the 37th floor and it has an excellent view of the Michigan Lake on one side and the downtown Chicago on the other. After a short breakfast we jumped into activities to make the function a success. The jobs were distributed among few volunteered guests and we happily finished our jobs on time. Guests slowly poured in as it was a lunch invitation. Within an hour the hall was filled with people from different backgrounds and facet of life. I slowly divert my attention from the grand view of the Michigan Lake to this multifaceted population. 

At the first glance it was like a village fair where each one is busy enjoying it in his/her own way. After a detailed observation I understand that there are 2 types of people, one who are the speakers and a smaller section are the listeners. Some people are known to each other the rest are completely unknown. I knew hardly anybody there so initially I was not among the speakers. 

After few initial introductions I get a little close with two young ladies one from a village in Brazil and the other from a small town of Jordon. They knew each other as they studied in the same institute few years back. The Lady from Jordon is a budding Trader working in downtown. She is staying alone so far from home. She completed her under-graduation and graduation from US and she is smart and beautiful. She slowly opens up giving details of her struggles in her own country and here. She is from a very rich family but she was not allowed to study after school, being a woman. She fled Jordon with help from her mom and elder sister after getting admission in an undergrad class in Chicago. She managed few days with the money she brought from home but soon she realized she needs some job. Because of her student visa she was only eligible to do odd jobs and she started as a waitress. It was a huge learning curve for her as she never cleaned her own dirty dishes before. She managed to get enough for her food and the rented apartment she shared with 2 other girls. After her under-grad she got admitted to masters and then she started working as an apprentice in a Trading office. Her financial condition improved a bit but maintaining the studies and work was really difficult. She dropped one semester to keep her apprenticeship. Now, after 6 years of struggling she is got an employment by the Trading office and she also finished her masters with good grades. 

In this long 6 years she has never traveled to her home. She only talked to her mom and sister and shared letters but no physical contact for so long. She is really eager to meet them but she will have to wait 1 more year so that she can have enough holidays to visit her family. Her dad never contacted her during this period, neither had she tried. She started believing that she never had a father. She became very poignant and confident and for that she thanked her dad. If she had a cooperative father she would have never achieved what she did today. She wants to bring her mother and sister here to show the independence the women here enjoy. The confidence is oozing out of her eyes and she is determined that she will do something for the women of her town. 

The gorgeous lady from Brazil is doing PhD here and she is the first one to attend that much higher education in her family and her village. She came to US with her husband, who got a job in a car factory near Chicago. They migrated to US as they were very poor in Brazil. She looked for job and she was not choosy. But because of her dependent visa she didn't get any. So she tried her luck in student visa and she managed that after she got the chance for a PhD in an institute. She needs to send money home, so the PhD fellowship was not enough and she takes up teaching assistance jobs. She works almost 15-17 hours a day so that her family at home can have food everyday. She also couldn't afford to visit her parents and siblings for the last 5-6 years. She particularly misses her nephew who was only 2 months when she left. She also misses the sun and the seashore and the fun they used to have during the Brazil New year day. She remembers how nice the Lentil and Rice cooked by her mom taste on the New Year day. How she longed for the fireworks and kissing the beloved on the midnight of the N-day. While talking about Brazil she was almost there, I can see her eyes filled with such a joy. 

She also wants to do something for her village, where they had only 2 primary schools and 1 high school with no college. The nearest college is 40 miles and that catered to 3 other villages. She wants to build a college so that people will not have to be away from their family in search of a decent life.

The struggles with their life make me pensive and I was looking for some fresh air. I went to the other side of the room where I find some people laughing and loudly discussing about India and its progress. When I listen to them for sometime I understand they are a group of young men discussing about the prospects of going back to India. One of them was particularly highlighting only the negative aspect of India while rests are describing the rosy side. Everybody was accepting that we have corruption, horrible work culture, bad management, pollution, water problem, lawlessness etc etc, but they all think everything is improving, else how the growth-rate is so high. They all want to highlight the insecurity of being in a foreign country. 

After a longer observation I understand that none of these are forced to leave India, very contrast to the ladies I met earlier the day. For this group of young Indians, it is more money why they are here. They all had a secured job in India and a stable family. After they came here they started facing the problem like renewal of visa, green card processing etc etc. These are the biggest problems they ever faced in their protected life. They are opportunists who want to get the best of both the worlds but neither have the guts nor the ability to change the present situation. Their discussions are limited to a theoretical level and they will only migrate to India if they are forced to. They don't even want to accept the dark sides of India as they don't have any mindset to solve it. I was not looking for this Fresh Air. I was really sad about at the na've, backboneless young Indians who are our Future. 

We all want to succeed in life but our path seldom matches. Our definition of success varies but we all call it success if we reach the goal. May be one day, we will build a world where we will be more empathetic to each other. May be we can build a world where at least majority will have enough to survive. May be then we don't have to separate loved ones from each other. Definitely that is worth the effort and my goal is to make some contribution to it, whatever small it may be. 


More by :  Surjasikha Ganguli

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