My parents were born in India - they had a traditional arranged marriage, and in the 1960’s my father moved here first to complete his PhD, with my mother following behind him later. Their plan was always to move back to India, but my mother found out that she was pregnant with me – that they would be having a baby girl. I am humbled that in that moment, they made what must have been a huge, difficult decision to stay in the U.S. because they knew that my life, particularly as a woman, would be better here. I am so proud of my parents - my mother who was 19 when she first arrived here and knew no English (she taught herself though watching I Love Lucy reruns). My parents would sacrifice anything to ensure me and my two sisters had access to great schooling and that is still a core value of mine.
When I was in school, I was assigned to write a paper about my name. My name means, “daughter of India.” But when I went to India, I was regarded as American. Here I was seen as Indian. And now I see that my parents gave me my heritage and I embrace it. I feel a lot of pride in my name.
Oftentimes, kids of immigrants rebel against the culture they came from in order to fit in. I was always trying to belong and pretend - When I was little, I thought I was white and had just been in the sun too long. I remember - especially around the holidays - how badly I wanted to fit in - but to what? I know now how we grow to have our own identity and heritage - I see things bigger. My six children have both Indian and Irish heritage, and as they get married our family is growing even more global. I have come to see that you have to feel a sense of belonging within yourself before you can find that within your community.