Thursday, 27 October 2016

Daughter Of A Immigrant

I Am A Daughter Of A Indian Immigrant!

Where has this post come from, triggered from the hype surrounding the Brexit situation.  When we did exit the EU I felt sick to my stomach I remember feeling rejected and in some ways Alienated in a country that has always been my home and for once it effected my sleep and my feeling of belonging. You might be thinking why such a dramatic response, well if that kind of plight gets 50% of the vote you wonder how much are the immigrants excepted really across the board.

Immigrant according to Wikipedia/ Google is - 'A Person Who Comes Permanently To Live In A Foreign Country' . So not to take advantage of the system, not to create problems, or ostracise themselves, rather they want to blend in and make a foreign country their home. Give their children a better opportunity.  Lets not forget the family and friends that they have left behind for a better future, it takes a great deal of courage. 

I mean I am a daughter of an immigrant my Father left India back in 1961, for a better life, more prosperity, a brighter future, far better choices and options and a more developed and broader way of thinking. He felt these things staying in India were not going to be achievable some may disagree with his decision I know a lot of his family did but he believed that and I can understand why, as he has shared many a story with me over the years over a hot cup of Chai and I listened with awe and admiration that he could be so bold so strong at such a young age. You see living in India and being a part of a family of 10 meant that many expectations were there for you, you needed to educate yourself in the career path they ( family) thought appropriate and if you didn't you would be beaten  and not excepted as a family member. The stifling expectations made my father run, some could say he shirked the responsibility of his family but to be honest he always says more kids left the family home the better as it meant if more remained there was more mouths to feed. As sad as that sounds that story vibrates through many households in India during the 50's and 60's. 

When my father came to the UK at age 18 he didn't expect any handouts not at all, what he did like was that basic human dignity was respected in this country, you had rights with Law backing them. If you worked hard the benefits were there. He enjoyed a systematic country where no longer bribery was the way forward and where any job big or small was respected you were not berated for coming from a particular kind of family and doing 'those kind of jobs' which he got a lot of stick for from India. I guess my Father was a free spirit and needed to learn from the school of Life rather than be spoon fed how and what is appropriate. 

When my mother arrived a further 11 years later in 1972, she also did what any other young women would she worked as a team with my father and created a future a life together, they have never stopped working , achieving and progressing they took baby steps and moved forward and sometimes those risks pulled them back a few steps but they never gave up! continued to do the right thing by their family and work. 

What impact does that have on the children born to parents from abroad, we are the first generation British Indian kids and remember this is my perspective so I don't want anyone getting offended or think what is she talking about?! its my feelings towards my life being bought up here! and I'm sure some of you will be able to relate to this in some shape or form. 

I had the privilege of two worlds rolled into one, that being the Indian world at home and the westernised existence outside, was it confusing?, at times but was it worth it,  most definitely! Confusing because certain things were imposed on us due to the parents fear of their children becoming too westernised, now what exactly did that mean?! One can only assume, Pubs, Clubs, Drinking, Smoking Having Sex and god forbid a boyfriend. Also the fear that we would lose touch with our indian culture and what it stands for.  So confusing for us growing up was the duality of a life that became second nature. The lies became who we were as there was no way you could get any understanding from them about freedom of choice. We naturally understood the culture from our parents eyes once we stepped outside our homes it was the western ways we mostly could relate to. Oh yes you 20 somethings or even 15 year olds reading this, 20 years ago this was our existence and the freedoms you guys have now have is us having created the path for you!!! stand up and drum roll please!..... come on it was tough in that teenage selfish mind of mine I felt suffocated and annoyed stifled and not to mention hard done by. But talk to the 40 year old me and you realise , it wasn't really any of their faults. They were just trying to make sense of world that was alien to them, too much freedom and choice scared them our Indian society gave us rules and by abiding by them life is a lot more simpler so for them the unadulterated choices were just too much for them to handle. However ask me and I loved it , thrived on it and lived for it.

I guess you could say we were as in my brother and I in an orthodox family life and it I think was done from fear. For Parents from another country I think their worst nightmare would have been westernised kids, who don't know anything about their culture and in some ways reject it to fit into the country they call home. So temple trips on a Sunday, Hindi classes once a week were a standard norm and you were not asked if thats what you wanted to do it was expected of you! I think it gave the parents a sense of control in a foreign country and in some ways kept us close to home.

The positives about this are that when we did our annual India visits to see grand parents and cousins, we were not so alien to the language, understood what family ties were and  generally got on with it. The drawbacks were adjusting to a chaotic India that as a youngster was difficult to process, but whatever we felt, it was home to my parents. Nonetheless it was a lot of adjustment one required to be able to enjoy the 6 weeks summer holidays in good old Punjab.

There is so much I have learnt from my ' Immigrant' parents and one thing is hard work ethic and how to build a community support to surround you when you have no family in the UK, oh yes we have no one aside from the nuclear family that we are and our respective partners, all the rest of our aunts and uncles cousins etc are in India or have emigrated to other countries. The biggest challenge I think for us, that are the first generation of 40 and under, we had to try and in some ways to emulate what our parents did and work extra hard to prove to them that all the sacrifices they did for us was worth it. Im not sure if we have succeeded and don't forget that could mean being happy and healthy with your choices, having a family of your own or even doing well in your chosen career path!

I have to say the up and coming generation now in the UK will never understand us and the things we had to adjust to except and work around, however thats just how it is with the circle of life, one generation carves and creates the path for the next to make free choices and to not have to be so answerable to the Indian culture you are born into. However the strict Indian society conditioning still remains etched in my memory and is hard to shrug off at the best of times.

I admire my Father making that choice at the age of 18 to leave India, it takes a lot of courage to step into the unknown and for my Mother to join him years later and their continued support for one another and never giving up I salute you and love you deeply for all that you do have done I appreciate no end and like many first generation kids of Immigrant parents we will never truly understand the hard work you had to put into settling and making a new country your new home.

My teachings from all this are that, you never take anything for granted ever, you work hard for what you want and you dream big because one day those same dreams can become reality! Your seek and thirst for knowledge should never wither keep it alive always and ultimately family above anything else! no Handouts no looking to blame others for your misfortune rather you learn from it and move on.

So next time you want to judge someone that leaves their  home to make another country their home be gentle with your understanding that a lot of people are truly wanting better things for themselves and are wanting to interact and mix in with a community thats not theirs to begin with. They are also leaving their loved ones behind and all the support system and love that they know.

This Is For My Parents ..You Make Me The Person I Am Today....

I hope you enjoyed this Blog.

Lots Of Love

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