My New Family

at 11:43 PM

I am a recently naturalized U.S. citizen. Per Indian government regulation upon taking up U.S. citizenship, I had to renounce my birth citizenship - my Indian citizenship. I had mixed emotions about this. Renouncing meant I was giving up on the land that raised me, educated me and made me the woman I am today. It meant I can't call India home anymore.  Was I going to be disowned?

These questions were swirling in my head even on the day of my oath taking ceremony. Ironically, I was chosen to read the 'Pledge of Allegiance' as a part of the ceremony.  The naturalization ceremony commenced and all I could hear was the tune of my national anthem - the Jana Gana Mana - ringing through my ears and tears swelling up in my eyes. I never thought of myself as a staunch patriot. So this rush of emotions caught me off-guard.

When it was time, I stood up with a heavy heart ready to take my oath and become a foreigner in my own Motherland - India. At that instance, it dawned on me. I wasn't betraying my India. I am simply going over to a new home, just like I did when I got married. I am getting two Motherlands, two 'Ma's', just like after marriage. I will love India and the U.S. alike, just like I still love my parents and in-laws. I will be indebted to India and the U.S., just like I owe it to both sides of my family. So with the oath, I did not give up my Indian roots. I just became a part of another family, the U.S. one.

I went up on stage and proudly read the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd repeated after me and it gave me goose bumps. When I finished, there was loud cheers and some tears. I felt warmly welcomed into my new U.S. family. Tears rolled down my eyes, just like it did after I said 'I do'.

With a Perspective, I am Amrutha Badrinarayan.

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Amrutha Badrinarayan became a U.S. citizen in February. She lives and works in San Jose.

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