Baraka shared this very troubling trend of parents forcing Western raised desi girls into overseas marriages. They go under the ruse of an ailing family member or a cousin’s wedding and soon the passport vanishes, strange male visitors come and go, and a wedding surreptitiously arranged. The British government is helping rescue these women. As they leave their homes their relatives cry out, “You have ruined us. You are dead to us.” Though the girls felt relief it was accompanied with overwhelming guilt. I know a girl this happened to, sadly she did not run. Such is the pain of oscillating between two worlds.
It made me think about the hybrid cultures desi’s create for themselves overseas. They want the new but desperately cling to the old. It is the struggle from which ABCD’s are formed (American Born Confused Desis). How long does language and culture dangling upon a string stay put before it unravels?
I delight in new clothes from Pakistan, I listen to the music though much less as the years go on but even more importantly I have parents who lived in Pakistan and slept upon manji’s and watched the stars on the rooftops. Who ate the sweetest sugar canes, and watched the elders smoke the hookah as a common place occurance not an event you pay 15.99 for in great “atmosphere”. I can turn to them for a ready bastion of memories of the country that my skin, eyes and smile are a testament to. If my parents took me back to Pakistan they can show me where the land of my forefathers who with their blood, sweat and tears to establish a home and a life for thesmelves, where my father grew up and my mother went to school. These are first hand memories. They’ve done their best to give me my culture but its easy for them because it is who they are and despite their best efforts I am still a hybrid child. I speak Punjabi fluently, Urdu haltingly though coherently, yet my vocabulary in either is probably not even 1/10th of the fluency in English. Each generation becomes exponentionally a little more integrated and that is good in many ways as the US is a melting pot, but there is something about the beauty of each distinct culture that gives life flavor.
What about my children? Their relatives will live here with a life filled with experiences more West than East. If my language fluency is less, how much less proficient will they be? How much will they feel a kinship to the land where their anscestors lived for centuries? Will this make them more alienated from the megaculture since they cannot look to a parent to tell them exactly where they came from or will they eagerly cast aside the roots that grow thousands of miles away but nevertheless attach firmly upon their feet, their hands, their skin, their eyes? This past weekend my baby nephew danced with pure joy his hands flying in the air to hip hop not Lata, Rafi or Mukesh. He is cooed to in English and his parents know only this country. Will he get as confused as I did when people ask him where he is from?
It’s this fear that grabs to the throats of parents who decide to take their children back home. Not realizing that the choices they made in coming to the new world, make such a backwards trot virtually impossible. Those who choose to Immigrate make an age-old sacrifice. They leap across oceans for hopes of a better life and future for their families. They leave behind parents, and friendships. Perhaps they did not realize you can only enter the new world with two suitcases worth of cultural baggage which inevitably grows lighter as the road grows on.