Roots to Wings

By Jasleen Saluja
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Image used for representational purpose only. Illustration: Sam Falconer

A migrant speaks about the challenges of leaving the land of one’s belonging

I’m a migrant and whenever I get a chance to have long candid conversations with other migrants, I go in a prolonged contemplation mode. Even though not necessarily from the same home countries, I feel that every migrant has a similar challenging story to share.

You see, as humans our natural instincts or that inner voice of ours would always take us closer to our roots. To the place where we were born, to the place we grew up, to the place we belonged, to the place our family lives, to the place that contains every bit of us. That’s how we are wired.

Sure, there is a list of reasons as to why people migrate. It can span from following in the footsteps of a friend/family to escaping from war. And everything else in between! The need to escape from something becomes so great that people are ready to uproot themselves and leave everything behind. Leave whatever they have built so far. Whatever the reason becomes, I strongly believe that people take such a decision for a better happier life. It’s a positive step forward for them and rightfully so. We are designed to grow and explore with the sense of hope and optimism in us.

Global migration is not only bringing upon so many visible and much talked about changes but also some changes that are behind the curtains, that are happening at a smaller level but on an extensive scale. And these changes along with many others are prominently going to change the fabric of society.

The countries receiving this influx of people have been nothing but generous and quite accepting thereby supporting this whole idea of new life for migrants. I am sure it’s not easy for them either and they deserve many thanks for this. Only an educated and open-minded society can demonstrate such a human behaviour.

On the other hand, countries, which are losing their people are at a bigger loss. And sadly, nothing much is being done about it. There are many irreparable damages that happen due to migration but the one that is rapidly increasing and affects me the most is the callous change in people’s thinking. People turning cold and indifferent towards their past as if it never existed. To the past that made them. To the past that is not just a time stamp, but is made up of real people. People who are back home, your near and dear ones, people who created you, people who supported you in your journey so far, people who possibly helped you migrate to your dream country, people who remember you in their prayers, your parents who are getting old, your parents who are possibly dying.

In my conversations, I realised how fast this kind of attitude is catching up and somehow has been considered right. Can we just separate ourselves? Do we have no responsibility to give back? Is gratitude so dispensable?

However, I do notice that people are not doing what they are doing consciously but such is life. They are unknowingly falling in this trap of a torn up life. Starting a life from scratch in an unknown land comes with its hard-hitting realities and situations. Usually people who migrate belong to two different worlds of opposite nature hence it doesn’t get easy for them. For the better future of their kids, better security, better financial status, better careers, better life they are unable to strike that right footing. It’s ruining families, spoiling relationships. Their regrets often in the middle of a conversation would show me their pain. My mind would often play those words which I have been told numerous times, “Our heart belongs back home but…”

I wonder how it’s going to manifest on our kids and the younger generation. Families living across continents is becoming a way of life and we can’t live under a rock. To be able to be relevant, one needs to go with the flow, with the changing times. But just like any other change, it is messy and so it needs more care, attention and responsibility. Isn’t it lovely to imagine a world, which is empathetic and thankful to the generations before them?

Sure, there are some beautiful people out there who are totally inspiring and can establish that harmony between the two worlds, between their past and present. May they keep going strong. And the people who are trying hard but are not yet there, I say thank you for trying. The seed of thought in your hearts is a seed of hope.

 

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