To Belong…Finally!!!

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Today as in June 17th, 2016 is my 30 Yr US Anniversary and 7 yr anniversary of becoming an American Citizen.  I am sharing with you a little piece I wrote back then on the emotions that I was feeling!!! (Sorry it’s a little long..)

Photo by RGK
So we received our citizenship interview letter this weekend and it set off a slew of emotions and thoughts thru my mind from shock to disbelief to amazement to immense joy all in a matter of seconds.  At first I could not believe the day was here where I was actually holding this letter and a million questions started racing thru my mind at once –  is it for real?…is it really in writing…wow!!  I must have read it 50 times over to make sure they had not made a mistake….  Its been 23 years since I came to this country (legally)…23 years….thats more than half my life.  A thought that was in the back of my mind the day I sat down and buckled my seat belt on that Zambia Airways flight in 1986 to travel to an unknown land of opportunity. I didn’t know it then, and am just barely getting the grasp of the events of the past  23 yrs and the moments leading up to this day.  I always knew that the number 23 had a special magical way of following me in my journey of life.. If I had known then that it was gonna be 23 yrs later that I finally would belong to this country..  would I have stuck with this path in life or decided to give up and move on?  After all.. there were many other places in the world that offered opportunity…but somehow my life’s journey was meant to keep me on this path and experience all that I have been offered – good and bad.

After the initial set of flurry of emotions my mind started to wander as to what this letter really means to me..Is this it?-  Does this mean I finally belong to someplace, can I officially call it home? ( a feeling that I have possessed and felt for years but was never reciprocated the same way by  the US immigration system..), can I finally vote for the first time in my life?.  This is more than just a passport…..there are so many feelings attached to this letter.

Born in India, raised in Africa (I consider myself a spicy blend of Indian, African and American culture 🙂 ), always living under the fear of being kicked out from your foreign home country, moving to the US with hopes of a better education.  As I moved thru the US education system a wave of knowledge flooded my mind on how to progress through the visa system: Practical Training to F-1 and then an H-1B and then to the ultimate ticket to freedom…THE GREEN CARD.  So many tested times to reach the green card stage.  There were many offers of green cards designed at home and marriage proposals (I am sure in least so I think) made by friends and coworkers. But the hardest time was 2001, where all visa doors seemed to be closing in on us and looked like hope was running out…Was it time?…the time for them to kick me out of this country, where do I go? what will I do? how will I adjust in a land unfamiliar to me? ….  But we survived one more curve in the road and continued on our Green card journey.  I think my dream of the green card seemed so unachievable at times that this day is truly a dream come true!!
BTW..on a funny note..I was shocked the day I learned the green card was actually not green!!
So where does one really belong to:  is it where you they were born? or where they were raised? or where their parents reside?  Is there any one good answer? What is that gives a person a sense of belonging?  And I am not talking about one’s heritage or culture, that is something that is ingrained in their upbringing and their value system.  My heritage has never been a question in my mind throughout this whole process.  That is something that was always very clear in my mind but this sense of belonging always mystified me…
Life has a way of working things out and with  love, support, hope and most of all faith…anythings achievable. I am not sure I know the answers to all of the above questions or will ever know but I do know today….that I BELONG here…right here with my three angels.   Angels that have been sent from above.. to love me for life and make my life complete and whole in a place that I can call home…OFFICIALLY!!
Thx for being part of my journey today…Would love to hear your thoughts..
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12 years ago

This is so beautiful Ruchi. You have captured homecoming with such lucid yet masterful strokes. You write from the heart and also for the heart. Never give this up. Keep scribbling and documenting little “bytes” of life. Cheers and happy anniversary to you and your family !

Rimly Bezbaruah
12 years ago

First of all congratulation Ruchi. You are an American citizen now after 23 years. I guess the sense of belonging can be anywhere as long as you have your loved ones with you and good friends. Home is where the heart is. Loved it. I like your style of writing.

11 years ago

This is definitely so much more than a Passport! You captured my day today.. and the anticipation of it. Sitting there for my interview today looking at my I-94 stuck to my passport from 1998.. I had a slide show go thru my brain of how I got here and what I’ve been through. Its an amazing place to be.. To be in the now! Metaphorically and presently speaking! This is home.. and this where I grew up and became stronger.. Not just physically. Your words took me through that journey again.. I love your words.. they speak to me! And I love you even more.. You are that book that I can read and feel at home anytime! Much love.. <3

11 years ago

This is amazing deedz! Very well written.

Roxanne Ruane
Roxanne Ruane
10 years ago

(((ruchi))) thanks so much for sharing your beautiful words and emotions. so many in this country take advantage of the rights afforded them and scoff at their corresponding responsibilities. while i’ve never lived anywhere else, i too take my opportunity to vote very seriously… despite my frustration with the way things go now in our elections. and regardless of whether the person i vote for or not gets elected, i am respectful of the position and the trials and tribulations that person contends with.

also, i am in awe of the way you have embraced this country and held onto your heritage. it saddens me that the access to my heritage died with my grandmother and i only have bits and pieces of memories left to enjoy. ironically enough, it seems the american way… our forefathers who braved the same journey you spoke of, and raised their families here… well… over the years… the families became more and more diluted. i have so little of my heritage to share with my sons… as basically, i am a mutt – lolol. i say that with the fondest emotions… i liken it to a puppy born of one kind of parent bred with another kind of parent. i’ve never had a pure bred puppy. mutts are loveable… and yes… i am a mutt. LOL. while i was raised by my grandmother who was hungarian… our generational line got more and more watered down. and with that, cultural traditions did too. i am truly in awe of families that are able to hold onto those traditions.

so let me officially welcome you… all these years later… to america! and remember to share everything you grew up with and know about your heritage and country with those beautiful children of yours.

pride in country… and pride in self. yea… that’s a true american. enjoy your vote today friend. i am so proud to have you as a fellow country(wo)man. <3

6 years ago

I am glad you found “home.” I felt touched reading this as you vividly described your journey and your excitement of finally obtaining your green card. You fully deserve it. Go on enjoying life and the love of your dear ones and keep up your gentleness!