“I don’t watch news on TV”, I say proudly. Then, internet is never faraway, even if you are not surfing the internet, just being logged into Facebook is enough to be aware of what is going on around us. It saddens me to see a lot of hate. I just a read a piece by a woman of mixed heritage being asked to leave the bus, the country because she is somehow responsible for the crimes and the shootings. There is was another story of a Sikh gentleman – Darsh Singh, mistaken for muslim and being ridiculed for playing basketball with his turban on. Yet another story of one being stabbed, another being beaten and yet another being mocked.
I wasn’t born here, but I am beginning to question why I came here? I have met many wonderful people here, a couple odd ones who insisted on knowing why I came here and how long I would stay? After 19 years, it still feels odd to have to answer so many questions at the immigration counter. Do I belong here? or do I belong in India? I wish it was an easy answer… with one foot here and one foot there it is hard to explain. Do I really have to belong to either or? can’t I belong to both? Or will I always be an outsider or a suspect because of my accent, skin color and husband & boys who wear turbans?
Much as we loved traveling, I now feel hesitant, traveling to bigger cities, I sense the suspicion in the air, is it just for me or everybody treats each other that way, I don’t know. Yet the last 19 years in different states, we have always met wonderful people. My boys have never been bullied in the different states that we have lived in or in the different schools they have gone to. They have never asked me why their skin color was brown or why they had to wear turbans, they accepted it as a part of their heritage and their religion. It has helped them have a sense of belonging, a sense of grounding – staying rooted as they soar into the clouds with their wings wide open.
Well! for better or worse, I think I am able to appreciate people who have overcome monumental challenges in their lives – be they physical and/or mental. Thanks to the alternative media that believes in “good” news, we have access to uplifting news as well. The other day, I read about Rajkumar Tiwari, a poor, challenged guy who learned how to ice-skate on his own and well enough to win a medal in the Olympics. Jagwinder Singh, a nationally acclaimed bicyclist has no arms but that doesn’t stop him from aspiring to go international. And I always get a lump in my throat when I watch this guy giving a cricket commentary in perfect English with all the background noise of the stadium. When in reality, he can’t speak English or see anything. And yet, with a smile on his face he continues to make the most he possibly can of life. The list goes on, of people who never give up despite all odds. So what exactly was my problem again?