I’ve never called anywhere but the United States of America my home. I’ve never called anywhere but the Midwest my home, actually. My parents though, they weren’t born here. They both emigrated – separately – from India in their early twenties for the chance at a higher education and a better life.
For almost as long as I can think back to, I remember being slightly embarrassed at the accented way my parents spoke and acutely aware of the bad reputation Indian food smells held. I remember hating the color of my skin and wondering why I couldn’t look like everyone else, when I’ve lived the same way as them virtually my entire life. I was raised like them, and yet I was never completely the same. This need for acceptance pushed me to reject everything Indian for a very long time, my parents included. I regret that.
It took me leaving home, and living alone for the first time in my entire life to realize how much my parents have given up for me. After getting married and having me, they moved to an expensive suburb so that I could be put through the best public education system possible. Since my birth, they’ve been putting away money for me monthly with the hope that I’d be able to attend whatever university I wanted when the time came. The work ethic they hold in such high regard is something that’s become ingrained in me, and it’s saved me during countless long nights spent in the library when I wonder why I’m doing all of this. Everything I’ve ever given up pales in comparison to everything they’ve done for me. They’ve sacrificed the chance to ever afford to return home so that I can be here, now, working my way to a success that’s completely due to them.
And maybe I’ll always be stuck in this limbo between “not Indian enough” and “not American enough,” but I’m thankful. Because it’s thanks to my parents that I’m able to speak three languages fluently, that I’m able to appreciate the uniqueness of every culture and region of the world. It’s thanks to them that I’m attending this beautiful university, working towards a degree that I genuinely love. It’s thanks to them that there’s never been an insurmountable obstacle standing in the way of anything I’ve ever wanted.
So thanks, Mom and Dad. Thank you for everything.