Friday, June 3, 2011

On Why We Are Going Abroad

Back after a long long lull, with a significant post very relevant to the current season.

Look around you. Its everywhere. And whether you smile or frown, appear proud before your neighbors or openly fret about your frustrations, it is an undeniable truth. We are all leaving. Some for good, others for a good long span of years. Its a cross-country egress - nobody is left out.

The trend has now become so obvious that this post runs the risk of being labelled cliche. Gone are the days when going abroad was the luxury of a chosen few. Today half the nation's youth is going abroad, and the remaining half is wishing they could follow as well. Some are going for work, others for education. Many will never return.

How do we react? We all know the drill. Over the phone, before the relatives and on the jogging track with neighbors we are proud parents. "Oh my son/daughter is going to USA you know, (s)he has got this really great offer.... and the pay, oh, its like 2 lakhs a month in Indian rupees ... blah blah." "Oh really? My cousin is going to UK to do his Masters ... great environment for education ... job opportunities after the degree are great too, even better than what they get from here, like your son/daughter." We openly gloat on it, most of us, and would not mind even to indulge in some competition amongst ourselves to prove ourselves the luckiest of the lot. A LOT.

Luckiest, did you say? In the quiet cover of our homes, our squeals of delight reduce to screams of agony. Yet another son gone to foreign shores. Yet another member of the family lost forever. Yet another step towards a lonely, helpless aged life. "I was born alone, I shall die alone" - the words never sounded more true. But what can we do, oh what can we do? They are our children, and their happiness matters. And they want this. They want it more than anything else right now. We cant hold them back, we cant ruin the 50 years of their lives for our remaining 10 or 20. We have to let go, yes. We shall hold back our tears. We shall bid them a happy good-bye, and write to them, and email them, and see their faces on Skype. Its a small world, is it so difficult?

But each time we garner courage in our hearts, the fear of loneliness, age and death eats into it like termites. We know they might not write back, mail in reply or come online on Skype. They might get just what we wanted to give them all this time - happiness. And we dread that out and out. That they can be happy without us. They can go ahead and find a life of their own, and never bother to look back. Things that were said and taught over and over again in school to be the final aim of an established person - it all seems terrible, too terrible to face with the thousands of miles of separation in between.

And then as the days pays, the pressure of frustration caves our hearts in. We crumble. We shout and fret and blame our children for forsaking us. We cry before those who are closest. We curse the government for doing "nothing about it". And while we are at it, another batch of youngsters is making their way to some other coveted land. And the cycle goes on.

The irony is that parents only think thus far. There is only sadness and frustration. If there is blame, it has to be directed at the children, or, at best,the government. Never do they, never do we think, what did we do about it?

And that is the most fundamental problem. We did nothing about it. If children today are migrating to foreign shores, it is because of us. Us as a whole. Had we done what we were supposed to do well enough, hard enough, then this day would not have dawned upon us. After all, why are all these people leaving? It is because they see no hope. No hope of good education. No hope of employment. No hope of well-deserved pay, respect in society, and a chance to live an honest and equal life. Trust me, all those youngsters going abroad, they are not after millions of dollars. They are not looking to become Hollywood stars or enterprising billionaires (although yes, some of course do end up that way). All they want, all we all want, is a simple life, a loving family, a respectful society and a satisfying and rewarding work. Such things don't change over a couple of generations. It is the means of attaining those goals that do.

And what have we done? Did we wake up at 7 AM each day and go for work? Did we love, live and preach what we do? Did we give it our best at our workplace, and work beyond the scheduled hour just for the kick of it? Did we come back home with a smile on our face and satisfaction in our heart?

Oh no we did not. We went to work late. We lazed away the day. To prevent ourselves from hearing harsh words and a possibility of being sacked, we formed unions whose sole purpose was "We wont work and you cant throw us out because of that". We bribed and asked for bribes to get work done (or undone). We actively engaged in politics. We filled our schools and colleges with people of political influence rather than merit and then sucked up to them for our own benefits. Education, learning and thinking were made our last priorities. When industries and factories closed down, we simply forsook everything that was indigenous, and bought foreign clothes, foreign Tvs and cars. We made going abroad a prestige issue to be boasted about. And at the end of all this, we were never happy. We did not come smiling back to home despite the easy life we had. We were unhappy, each moment of our lives. We wanted more. More money. More relaxation. More useless stuff to buy and fill our useless lives with. Wives, families and children were just for granted. We lived to eat, pretended to work only because it paid, and then boasted about our lives before our neighbors, and competed with them to show whose life was the most worthless.

Is it surprising, that our children, born and brought up in this atmosphere where the governing principle seems to be "I am living because my parents did not resort to abortion" will ever see any hope? Maybe other nations are no better, but at least they have not seen it first hand! They believe they can start a new life there, where people just don't survive, they live with their heads held high. They may be very wrong. But they believe in it, and they will work hard to make their belief come true. Here, we just don't believe in it any more. We believe we are doomed to survive as another voter in a country of over a billion people. We are a 'nobody', and there is no chance we can ever be anything different. We see no hope ourselves, is it unusual that our children don't?

And so they are going. And so they shall be gone. Generation after generation , age after age. Unless you wake up. Unless we start pointing that finger of blame at ourselves instead of at all other directions. Unless we start doing well what we were supposed to be doing all this time. Is it too late already? Maybe it is; but if you believe that it is not, if you believe it day in and day out, so hard and so strong, that there IS hope left, then hope might just reconsider coming back to us on its own.