The Plight of an Immigrant Child

It’s kinda funny sometimes

When I’m chatting online with my friends

Ranting about the immigrant child life

Trying to make my case to those who don’t understand

 

Funny because all my messages

Come out

As short

Exasperated

Bursts

 

I can’t help it though

Full sentences just aren’t for me

I need the breaks

The pauses help me remind me that I need to breath and let go

It helps remind me that I’m alive and will remain alive

No matter how many bad grades I get

Or names I get called

Breathing reminds me that I’m still here

I’m more than just a machine

I have my own rhythm

I breathe

 

Sometimes us stereotyped

Bright

Renowned

Immigrant students

Don’t have it as good as others think

Brownie points and gold stars come with a large

And often unbearable

Price

 

September 17th, 1993

Was the date my family came to this

Great ol’ USA

Not me though

I was born on this soil

 

You wouldn’t think it’s a big deal

To be a child of immigrants

But the truth is

The Americans see me as Indian

And the Indians see me as American

So I can’t help but begin to wonder

Where home really is

And what I truly have

To call my own

 

My mama’s childhood comes from

A world so distant and ravaged by globalization

-McDonalds, Katie Perry, and Wal-Mart-

That it is almost forgotten and unreachable

Except for in the deepest recesses of my mama’s mind

 

So on the first day of senior year       

When I came down to ask her for her signatures

And her help in wrapping textbooks

I never expected my mama to tell me her story

Share her world with me

Stories of the teachers she used to love

And the ones she’d hate

The boys she found cute

And the opportunities her culture never allowed her

 

She was a woman

She wasn’t allowed to do her masters

Because why would a woman need higher education

Especially in art

NO, instead

She was engaged at 20

The arranged marriage took place at 21

Then my sister came at 22

And my mama immigrated at 23

With a new family, a new husband, a new environment

Far from her family, her friends, her culture and her home

My mama forfeited her opportunities to come to the land of opportunity and live in chains

For me

 

And I wondered what she has left to call her own

But then I realized

It was those lost opportunities that drove my mama everyday

Drove her to sacrifice her life to ensure mine would never be lacking

 

As I continued to listen to her memories

I noticed tears of nostalgia in her eyes

And tears of longing in mine

Because no matter how hard I tried

Her memories just couldn’t take form in my mind

It was like trying to make a painting without paint

I could see the brush strokes but the picture wouldn’t appear

 

Which is kinda ironic

Ironic because despite the fact that my mama is fine art painter

I can’t recall every seeing her paint anything

 

I hope she didn’t sacrifice her art too

 

Sacrifice is something rather Indian

I like to think

It reminds us to respect our elders for all they’ve done

To give for the well-being of the children to come

Not to mention that it connects us all through obligation

This, I guess, could be a good or bad thing

 

Sometimes I find myself attempting to obtain that golden star

Only to realize I’ve already got it in my back pocket

My American desire to pay back my debt

Often gets confused with my Indian obligation to pay my respects

 

Sometimes underneath all that pressure

Us immigrant children

Are squeezed into a mold that we weren’t born to fit in

Are forced into a competitive state of mind

Filled with anxieties

Pent up emotion

A constant sense of insecurity

 

We force ourselves into this mold

Teach ourselves to follow routine

To constantly prove ourselves

Prove that we deserve to stay here

But also not let go of where we came from

 

We build walls

Distancing those around us

As though they will figure out we’re intruders in their home

That we don’t actually belong

It’s suffocating

So suffocating that we often forget to breathe

 

But being reminded that I’m still breathing

That I’m still here

Tells me that I belong

I have not one culture

Not even two

Rather I am the bridge between every community

I am the definition of global

And that is my golden star

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