1B!

 P S Joseph

 

As the car roamed through the interstate highway at 80 miles, the images appeared surreal. There were only wild lanes before him as he steered through the drab roads occasionally crisscrossed with service roads. After coming to the united states (US) it had always been so. The mad rush in the morning hours which would not end till night. It seemed one is living out of the car. The car as a symbol of American life suddenly popped into his mind. The symbol of mobility, prestige and speed. The symbol of all values America stood for. The land as a shopkeeper`s paradise.

 

The google assistant had been crooning as he revved up the engine with a vehemence to the right to take a faster lane. To reach the office in time had become so important. Today the unavoidable business meet with the clients. After that dealers meet, then meet with the director board. Suddenly in a very small company so many spokes were appearing. Though the company is small, the paraphernalia was big. It should always be in the news. Its stocks should be sold high. Nobody should know recession had affected it. The last managing director had left the company insolvent. Not only the lives are dependent on it, the state economy itself is dependent on it. If it crashed half of the companies would crash. It is an unholy nexus of the bank, business and the government had been protecting the wellbeing of the state. Suddenly as the car revved up, the girl from virtual world had been warning, take a right turn soon....

 

He smiled to himself. So many right turns but not reaching anywhere. He had been driving from Buffalo from the early morning as cold winds lashed against him. Snow had fallen on the streets. Trees were a remnant of the exuberance they exhibited. Niagara had frozen, Radhakrishnan was telling him. Everywhere high snow. It would be cleared as he moved on. He thought he could find a way out. Any way he must reach the office as early as possible. But of what avail?

 

Last night he was with Radhakrishnan and family. They were packing off to India. India where most possibly in Chennai or Bengaluru or was it Hyderabad. Though they were so friendly they forgot to talk about the roots or whenever they talk the talk would center around returning to India. But India is a land of many hues, many states. many different worlds. It had never become an issue at all till now. He thought that Radhakrishnan’s would be with them forever but suddenly Trump changed all.

 

"Never have I thought of returning to India. With H1 B in hand and wife relatives and children around never have I bothered about returning to India. Of course, the Gopio card is there if one acquires citizenship. Till ma and pa are there, we must visit home once a year. The frequency has been disappearing as the kin also started come again and again.” Medical bills, educational bills and the other bills hung him down. “Nothing to show off, what we have purchased is now worthless. It’s a benevolent auction.”

“Only problem is Sony and Honey. They have been here from infancy. US citizens. Their friends are here, their world is here.”

“They would make ice trees and ice houses here and play with the other kids. On Diwali we would give them sweets. Crackers would be burst. Everything was sweet .Children enjoyed playing during Halloween .The thanksgiving was so special. We have bought many of the gifts for desi  kin then only .Suddenly everything changed. Children has lost their childhood. Would they come again here? Nobody knows.”

“When people were sent out with pink slips, we never thought it could be us one day. There was enough work vacancy, nobody was bothered of you. Get in, you will be there till you live or your contract ends. Never thought law would become a villain so soon.”

For Natasha life had  been painful for her with no job at hand. She had been learning to live with a paltry sum. Now only she realized that her family was so big, her job  could not hold them together. She had an H 4 dependent visa but to get it ratified she had to run hither and there.”

“She had gathered the accent. So long we have been here, we are very friendly with all around.”

it’s a suburb where no racial tensions, everything has been perfect except the winds and chill, not like Chennai.

Oh, suddenly it dawned on him that they were chennaites from the land of heat and dust. Talk centered around the bad roads, the smell emanating from the buses, the clustered living. Theirs had been a big joint family .There were no separate room even for the newly wed couples .Children enjoyed it the best. They had so many cousins to play with, elders to take care. Elder women joined in the cooking every day. It was a variety of foods, but the food bills were so meagre, nobody bothered

But in US it’s a major item. Unfortunately eating out cost a lot but there was no option even if parents were with them. Many days they would come late. Then Sony or Honey would be down with fever. It was difficult tending them

 

“The worst part is the visa. I will never come back with H4 tag. Though she was as qualified like Radhakrishnan, it was difficult for her to get a placement as Trump was threatening them every day with new rules. Here everything is costly, even the medical insurance, the payments are heavy. With single salary it was difficult.”

“Then the bills at home has also to be taken care of. The money for the servants. it’s a recurring nightmare,” she said.

“Now that we are returning, we do not know how it would turn out .We must start from the scratch, must search for a new job. Already we are at  the middle age. Would Indian companies  require us with such experience? Seems our experience has proved difficult for us.”

 

 

He had been hearing all they were telling him. Life has been no different for him, a boomerang from which he has no escape but so far good. Only thing is he has got a job till now...The HI b had become a cross in his neck, but the American dream seemed so hazy.

 

As the car drove into the busy city streets it got slowed down but no traffic snarls. Suddenly the telephone came to life...

Uma on the line

 

He had been hearing her often in pleasant surprise but now her words had become so meaningless Despair was very much in her voice. It crackled ...it’s a too difficult to be here.

 

“With the child I am finding it tough to go and I do not know whether the job would end soon. Vacancies are there but they want to employ only an American. Seems some are waiting to relocate to the ice clad Michigan. I have to look for another job or no other option but to return.”

 

My husband does not have a proper visa and he has been negotiating with one or two companies, but the contract has become a tough part. We do not know when we would be out. Could not plan anything at times. At times the cost of the job become higher than the salary itself

And I must take care of the child as if I were a single parent

 

The American dream had become a nasty affair. The  car had been rushing at breakneck speed past malls, past food courts and residential areas. Only the long and never-ending high ways before him.

 Drawn to himself in the busy thoroughfare he started thinking of the future. The journey to the US five years ago came back to him. The thrill of coming to a land where merit is supreme, a new world.

  With his number crunching abilities which could be compared to a super computer itself, he thought he could conquer the world. It was not to be. The moment he was inside America everything had changed. The look of strangers as they watch a brown man who plays the role of a white, the feel of sickness. Every day one of them would be sick but to consult a doctor was hell of an affair

Let us go home, why this life, his wife would start complaining. Here nothing is pucca .The moment you leave the place you might be relieved of coming problems

Women knew the most simplistic way out

If I go out it would be the end of the dream.

Where would go my aim to be in MIT or in Princeton. With Nobel winning academicians he dreamt of inventing new program for the coming world

The attempts were not faulty. But the American people, who increased day by day, who thought they are being treated unfairly started to haunt him

Finally, the medical bills, though amply covered ,he did not know what to do with lesser recurring ailments

As the car changed the lanes to the exit, the hushing speed had come to an end. It was the service road to the company. From distance he could watch different types of cars making a beeline to the parking lot Though it is past the morning check in time all were coming late to the office. He could see many of them, who were his friends for long. After a courtesy bow all left the lot to the office except Robert, the US friend he was always banking on.

 “Seems Krishnan left the place altogether,” Robert told him

 It was a shock for him. Krishnan’s wife is pregnant They were planning to bring their parents to the states as they did not want to go home and try their luck at the consulate there.

   “Seems the pink slips again. The company could not offer an extension to him. He has been trying through various channels to get a job and now suddenly the company terminated them “

   “Of course, his wife is pregnant but what could he do. With no possibility of a renewal of his visa application he left the country. As she is so advanced in her pregnancy, he could not take her with him. The worst part is she could not bring her parents too “.

And suddenly he felt the pain of Krishnan and Radha in a foreign land. With nobody to attend to her she would find it very difficult to be here. Even after the delivery of the child paper works had to be completed. Everything should be ok to fly home.

 

 His face fell. Why Krishnan left without a word had been nagging him. How could he face him, he had high dreams. Charted his years in US with meticulous planning. But everything turned upside down

At home it would be more difficult, He hasn’t paid the loan he has taken. Parents are ailing And his wife is in labor room with no assistance from home .

The American dream had been turning into a nightmare. Better that he had escaped the vicious circle. The visa, countless journey to the consulate. Job interviews. The puzzled look in the face of the US citizen. The renewals the fast and mad rush to be in with a society he does not belong. He thought

He wanted to cry but no tears were forthcoming

In the cool courtyard where wind is wrapping you up and flushing your face you could not stand so long. The parking lot was deserted in no time.

Suddenly he was at home. When he opened the door pa and ma came so happily to him. The familiar noises, the smells of the town, the nasty odourl of the streets, the gaudy colors ,the heat and the dust

His wife would be waiting for him with idly and vada, the child would be warmly embracing him a citizen of another country in her own land

Suddenly in his he had a rush of images good and bad …The car had been logging more miles than he thought .

As he stepped out a neat world with pines and forests and lakes opened before him

As he watched a deer crossing his way, he wondered whether he would be there next year this time watching the pines in a hilly world at the lands’ end?

 

 


 

 

 

Comments

Leave a reply.

മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക
captcha image