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The Ones Who Left

Nitin Sawhney tweets, “My dad – One of that generation who came to England with a few pence and a heart full of humility… took all the racist crap for our future.”

These words fill me with love, sadness and anger, directed mainly at Sawhney’s father and mine. Why did these sweet, humble men put their prerogatives and desires aside for the sake of family? What was and is so much greater about others than themselves? Immigrant parents amaze and infuriate me in their innate ability to stifle all that is Them to do for Theirs.

A few years back, Dad said to my brother and me, “I insisted on your education and success so that you may never have to depend on one another.”

Emigration and diaspora mean more than personal survival, but survival of the race. The impetus has to be more than duty or, why would my parents leave beloved yet going-nowhere India for the west and take all kinds of crap, racist and otherwise, to support their families and us? It cannot be because their lives didn’t matter and they were but sacrificial stepping stones on the way to us as the end. They ensured that many of their kind wouldn’t get left behind in the future, that we would survive and thrive in the new world order. Our emigrant parents were visionaries and matter so much more in the large scheme of things, if they were to choose to think about it that way.

Of course, many who left didn’t expect permanent new lives abroad and never returning to the motherland. They weren’t seers at all, but kids like my brother and me. How could they know Opportunity would become Home?

It’s more than because I am not one yet, but people like my parents perplex me. And I am betting this privilege I enjoy is what they wanted.

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