INDIAN TRAILBLAZER: The move to Olympia

Shala and I dressed up in snow clothes for the first time

The snow kept falling, blanketing the car and the windshield wipers furiously trying to keep up with the downfall.

My deep-set green eyes took in my mom’s pale face through the rearview mirror. She was used to the pounding hot sun of India not these wet white flakes that brought a chill not only her to bones but a fear riveting through her body.

She was nervous about my dad driving the 60 mile trek from Seattle to Olympia, Washington, the state capital.

But my father, as always, was in control. In his 27 years he had never driven in snow either. Like everything in his life, though, he conquered the task fearlessly. And as always, I was mesmerized by my dad and took in the dynamic of my parents from the back seat of the car.

They had an arranged marriage. Of course, at the age of three I had no idea what that meant. But, from my view as a little girl, they seemed like a perfect team. I felt their love for my two-year-old sister Shala, my infant brother Shabaz, and myself. We had little money but you can’t buy that type of secure feeling for your family.

We were heading to Olympia so my dad could start his new job. It was a step above his first position as a state auditor.

As I revealed in my earlier blog, my father uncovered deception. I still don’t know the full story of what he found. Only that it resulted in the forced resignation of some top tier officials in state government.

My mother had begged my father not to come forward. It’s not that she did not want him to do the right thing, but she was so scared we would be sent back to India. My uncle had sponsored us to come to the United States and we were not citizens. That meant we were still here on a temporary basis. If there were any indications of trouble, we could be sent back.

Even as a little girl, I always had a book nearby

If I was forced to go back, doctors had said, I would likely not make it past my fourth birthday. My immune system was not strong enough to take the brutal environment of the country.

In the few months we had been in the United States, I was showing great progress. There was one major scare, where my legs gave out. The doctors still did not know what happened, but it was the beginning of a long road where I struggled to walk. I have bruises all over my knees to this day, permanent reminders of the falls.

Back to the move, my parents told us it was an exciting big step. My dad’s new job would bring in more money. We would finally live in our own apartment and not have to share a home with my aunt and uncle and their two boys. My Aunt Ismath and Uncle Iqbal were so generous but they were also trying to get established in the United States.In the back seat, using one hand to hold Shala’s and the other to have Bazi’s little fingers wrap around mine, I buckled in for the ride. A ride that brought so many highs but then also some detrimental lows. Lows, I never could have imagined. I guess people can live in glass houses after all. 

2 comments

  1. Really enjoying your story— your writing style leaves one wanting more of the story quickly — thank you for sharing

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