The Myth of Return

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Many years ago, a wise family friend laughed gently when I told him I would be returning home to India, where I had lived the first 29 years of my life. I meant it so I asked him, "Why do you think I am not serious?" I was educated, had left a great job in India and could easily find a better one when I returned. My first two years here in the U.S. had been enjoyable but nothing extraordinary. In fact, life with a baby here, away from family and relatives eager to step in and help, had been isolating and challenging. My friends in similar situations also talked about returning home.

"It’s the myth of the return," my friend said. "It's how you cope and give yourself time to adjust. Then you don't feel like you failed because you are homesick and starting from scratch, while your friends at home are way ahead of you. It also seems less of a betrayal of where you came from. Believe me, you will not return." And he was right.

When I hear about the kids and women crossing the Rio Grande to enter the United States, somehow I think about those days. The people crossing the border, they do not wish to return. It  is a matter of survival for them. I really had no pressing reason to leave my country of birth. I came to the U.S. to get a different experience and then to return. But I learned that as you grow, assimilate and participate in life around you, your past recedes slowly. And one day, you realize returning home was a myth after all. That  what you have in the present, is way more precious. That this here is home. 

In retrospect, it is good to know there is another place to go back to, a place that you could also call home. But it is sad that in world today, there are millions of refugees living in host nations hoping to return home eventually, clinging to  that myth. War, poverty, politics, economics, even choice -- they uproot us and they give us a new home, sometimes.

With a Perspective, I am Sapna Singh.


Sapna Singh is an attorney happy to be living in San Francisco.