Second Generation Heartache or First Generation Shadow

January 4, 2001

Dear NRIs or Indians or whatever name which you prefer,

I am a second-generation youth of America. Although I grew up here, perhaps I was too young then to understand things. I feel more able to relate to Indians who are just recently from India or are in India. Now, finding myself just barely beyond my teens, I recently keep finding myself isolated from and shocked at my surroundings; a fellow second-generationer suggested I was going through what "our parents" must have gone through upon coming to America.

Per chance, I hold some similar values to them. Yet perhaps they see India seems to becoming Westernized day by day...?

And now, career issues, who am I, and etc. has led me to serious thought and questioning (as if that wasn't there already), but I thought maybe someone here would be able to say something that may open a new window. I have read and read about the immigrant experience and keep finding out thoughts and realities i never knew existed (that there are Indians all over the world!.. the different realities of immigration.. indentured, forced, economic boost (that's America for u...said a bit wryly.. not to offend anyone), so all is not in vain, but some sort of morbid fear grips my soul some times... Will the good in humanity remain? It no longer remains a question of preservation of culture.... as some say culture is a flowering of good - a very nice and fluid "definition".

Despite the accomodations made under economic pressures or psychological, are there some resilient souls who somehow found a way?

A wise lady when referring to America captures a growing essence, "No time, no money? Get out."

I have oft heard the phrase, 'why don't u change?' 'can't you adapt?'... Does this ring a bell with anyone?

How did you survive? Weren't many of the "Aunties" shocked out of their minds? Am I the only one (perhaps in the second-generationer's yes (and yet no..), hence I run to this medium to see if there are some others who can relate) I didn't migrate to America, and now I don't know how to get back to India. Any suggestions?

Wisdom and open insights most appreciated!

Does my heart yearn for a memory that was never mine? For an India that does not exist? (Somehow, I can't accept that as I have felt great affection from Indians that I have not felt in other quarters of the world.) Hopefully, not an India that is being destroyed, as I now hear by violence and materialism. Is this some elusive memory hidden in the infant brain passed on unconsciously by past generations?

For one who was not an immigrant, I carry the immigrant's burden... and I don't understand... however hard, I toil... the work is never done... the heartache only becomes clearer.. a feeling of intense loss or potential loss...

Perhaps some of you have felt similar thoughts or have engaged in discussions with your children where you have noticed them to have similar thoughts?

Sadly and longing to hear from one who understands the emotional strain and perhaps has carved his/her own path.

Second Generationer who sometimes wonders if in reality First Generationer's Shadow would not be more apt a name...


The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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