What Does It Mean to Be the Daughter of Immigrants?

What Does It Mean to Be the Daughter of Immigrants?


I’m sitting here, contemplating a great many things, as my younger brother commands dusty buttons to take actions of killing villages and children on his game controller. In Urdu, my mother yells and him to turn the volume down, and for me to get up and prepare dinner, as a girl should do.

In that moment, I realize my life is different than most of my American friends. And that mindset is vastly different than my 10-year-old “Americanized” brother, who thinks it’s okay to bombard villages because “it’s just a game.” 

He fails to realize that these are the same villages that our mother and father escaped from to come start a different life in America; one filled with limitless opportunities for all of us.

I always catch my parents taking a quick glance at the game, and then choosing not to say anything. I wonder if that glance is all it takes to unbury those hidden hatchets of a war-zone they once called home. How they vowed they would never go back to Pakistan, and how much they despise the idea of me even thinking about putting my life in danger by volunteering to go to a developing country, “just” for a life-changing experience, as they refer to it. “Your baba and myself risked everything for you to grow up and get an education, so you can do this? So you can risk your safety by going back?”

I will have the opportunity to witness, and appreciate the sacrifices my parents made in leaving behind all that had ever been familiar to them, in order to create a new version of “familiar” for themselves, and their children. 

I want them to understand that through this experience of visiting the land my parents left behind, I will not be a victim. I will be privy to the life they left behind for my brother and I. I will have the opportunity to witness, and appreciate the sacrifices my parents made in leaving behind all that had ever been familiar to them, in order to create a new version of “familiar” for themselves, and their children. 

Not many in their lifetime have an opportunity such as this; I hope to be amongst the lucky few.

As of now, you’ve gotten the idea that I am a daughter of two immigrants. I am also a college graduate of an American Catholic University. I am Muslim. I am also a Bible and Torah reader, along with a Buddhist reciter. I am all these things and more. And I am able to be all these things because, long ago, two young individuals summoned all the courage they could, and ventured into the unknown with hopes of a safer life. 



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