27/12/2014 8:12 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

A True Indian

Schoolgirls dressed in the colors of the Indian national tricolor flag participate in rehearsals for Independence Day celebrations in Ajmer, India, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Independence Day is celebrated in the country annually on Aug. 15. (AP Photo/Deepak Sharma)
Schoolgirls dressed in the colors of the Indian national tricolor flag participate in rehearsals for Independence Day celebrations in Ajmer, India, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Independence Day is celebrated in the country annually on Aug. 15. (AP Photo/Deepak Sharma)

At the age of three in 1999, I was brought into America by my parents for a privileged future filled and a plethora of new opportunities. Predominantly since for us Indians, education was (is and will always be) incredibly important and they knew that America was the best platform to get a great education. The objectives and goals they brought with them into America only came to my understanding after I started going to school because first of all, I was only three when this substantial change was taking place. Second, all I could remember at the age of three was crying my heart out, banging on the window while sitting on my mother's lap in the plane so that I could stay back. I didn't care that it was my first time riding a plane, I just didn't want to leave. I didn't want to leave the beautiful soil I was born on, the pleasurable monsoons, the scorching heat, the magnificent temples, and especially my loving grandparents. I simply didn't want to leave my motherland.

My loud, childish cries obviously didn't make a difference because I had already found myself starting my journey in America as time passed by in a blink of an eye. I started going to school when I turned four. Deep down I was wanting my life to return to its inception if not that, then just for life to slow down. As time passed by, I had forgotten how unhappy I was about leaving India because I was caught up in trying to adapt to a new environment. I had to make new friends, eat different food, wear different clothes, walk on the opposite side of the road and what not. I have done this when I was four with the help of my mother and every single year after that.

I found myself adapting to America even when I was starting out high school because I knew deep down inside that I was not done being depressed about leaving my beloved country. Amongst the confusion and incomprehension of adaptation an Indian or anyone immigrates goes through, it's very easy to forget our roots, traditions, and heritage. I have noticed most of the Indians trying to fit in more than simply adapting enough to survive in the environment. Luckily, that never happened to me. Probably because those roots, traditions, and heritage were all I came with to this country and my mom always made sure that I never forgot that.

The biggest jolt I experienced was when I started going to high school, I came across Indians who had forgotten their culture, heritage, and values of being an Indian. I didn't know it was that simple for them. As I got to know them better, I discovered that some of their parents had raised them that way after they immigrated to America and then there were some who felt ashamed to call themselves Indians, which disgusted me. Where we come from, plays a huge role in our lives--so let me make this crystal clear, we CANNOT run away or even try to hide from who we originally are. At least, that's not something I do because I prefer to be true to myself.

But still allow me to remind you how India is.

India is:

Where we embrace every heart with all our heart, no matter who they are.

Where when the time of festivals arrive, my motherland is brilliantly coloured and lit up with an amplitude of affection.

Where our food ranges from being deliciously spicy to delightfully sweet.

Where guests are considered god sent and we make them feel at home no matter where they come from and how long they stay.

Where we energetically celebrate every aspect of life, with different forms of dance and music.

Where the most wonderful films and memorable music are made.

Where if once we call you our friend, that bond is meant to last forever.

Where we come together to watch cricket matches whether we know each other or not.

Where every inch of the land is beautiful from the wheat fields in villages to the Gateway of India in Mumbai.

Where we know that our country isn't perfect but we are willing to do anything and everything to bring change for good.

That's where I was born. That's where the Indians who immigrated to this country were born.

When India goes through its battles with social issues, I get frustrated knowing that I can't do anything to help while I live here pursuing my education. I feel depressed when I can't celebrate Independence Day on August 15th and Republic Day on January 26th and even when India wins a cricket match. Not a day goes by when I don't think about my birthplace. I can always feel India calling out to me, signalling for me to return to where people call me their own no matter what and to the soil I was born on--the scent of which I still haven't forgotten.

An Indian can go to any corner of the world he/she wants, achieve success and happiness there, but a true Indian will always come back to where they belong. I just want my fellow Indians in India to know that I haven't run away from roots and culture. I do care. And I know I will come back one day to give them the immense amount of love they have given me during the few years that I lived there. I can't wait to return and be coloured in saffron again.