“Seven years ago, my husband and I uprooted our two daughters, Ranju and Malu, from their comfortable lives in Manhattan and moved to India to be closer to our aging parents, and to allow our American-born children to know their Indian heritage.”
I cannot even imagine what would have happened, had my parents moved us back to India when we were young. I was last there when I was 11.
Pressure to conform.
I think that’s what I felt in India. An intense pressure to be anything but myself: as if “me” were inadequate, incongruous, generally incorrect. I didn’t have the wherewithal to silence those voices that Ms. Narayan describes. I didn’t know how to push back without being rude. (I may have learned how, since then. And my difficulties then may have been exacerbated by the severe illness I had–my maternal uncle used the word dysentery–making me lose 15 percent of my bodyweight.)
Maybe that’s one of the myriad reasons I haven’t been back since. It’s embarrassing that my 11-year-old self dictates the actions of my 43-year-old self. But it does. (for now)
I don’t know Ranju and Malu. But they impress me. Tremendously.