It’s been 6 years. When we came to the US, I never thought I wouldn’t go back for this long. My sister had been in the country before me, and she visited home faithfully, once, sometimes twice a year. I thought I would do the same.
For reasons that are too complicated to go into, that didn’t happen. The first few years in the US, I was terribly homesick. Then I discovered Vox , and stopped feeling quite so lonely. The parents came for a visit, and the homesickness got better. I started watching Bollywood movies again, befriending desis on twitter without getting an ache in my belly. Even now, reading books about the diaspora is hard. As are the festivals. Every time I find a piece of clothing that I like, it turns out to be Made in India.
It’s time to go home.
Will I be able to come back? I don’t know. There is a job for me here, but the paperwork road is long and painful, and there are never any guarantees. My very expensive lawyer says so. It might be safer for me to just stay put and wait for my visa to come through, but I’ve chosen to take my chances and go home.
Family and friends want us back, permanently. There are jobs to be had in India. There is family. The monsoon. Chai by the roadside. And as a friend told me, ‘You will actually be able to afford help.’
I’m torn. Unlike most would-be immigrants, I did not come to the US looking for wealth. Unlike my husband, I did not come looking for excellent training, though it found me. I came looking for a meritocracy. And I found it, in a workplace where people do their jobs without asking for bribes, where medications aren’t adulterated, where cars stop for pedestrians. As scary as the current political climate is, America is still the most diverse country I know, and Americans the most accepting of people. (I say this having lived in the deep south for a year, and rural Appalachia for another three.)
Yes, I can probably make more money as a physician in India. But can I live this clutter-free life? Can I make a living without compromising my values? If I have children here, they will be American, not Indian. They will never identify with the rain, with Holi and Diwali, with dhotis and saris like I do. But they will grow up being able to practice what I preach, being able to learn that you can survive without being corrupt, that you don’t have to pull someone else down to get out of the bucket.
There are no good answers. The decision is still a couple of years away, until A finishes his training. In the meantime, I’m going home. If they let me back in, I’ll be happy. If not, I’ll extend this vacation and travel the world, until I find another place like this.