MY FATHER'S STORY
My father had always dreamed of moving to the United States when he lived
in Pakistan. He knew that Pakistan would not be the best place to raise a
family, and definitely not the safest. This can be traced back to the partition,
which, if it hadn't occurred, may have affected his decision to move to
America. He was also largely influenced by American TV programs, and
American culture in general. He wanted a better future for his kids and wanted
to raise a family. He said he wanted to stand on his own feet. My father always
saw America as the most civilized nation, and thus he found it to be the most
ideal place to raise a family.
When he turned eighteen, he told his parents he was going to leave home to go to the USA. Although many of his cousins and family friends already lived there, his parents were not exactly comfortable with him leaving by himself. He eventually managed to convince them to let him go, and he recalled the emotional day when he left. He promised his mother that he would see her soon again.
Before he actually left for the USA, however, he traveled to several different countries, including France and Spain. He recalls teaching Pakistani children in Paris how to speak Urdu, which is the native language of Pakistan, and English. Eventually my father ended up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his cousins resided. He stayed there with them for quite some time, finding a job at a nearby dry cleaning store. He recalls that some of his fondest memories were from that time, and his parents even came to visit him there. He remembered taking them to Mardi Gras celebrations.
My father said his parents were largely affected by the partition, mostly because of the violence. His grandparents lost many Hindu friends who left after the Partition to go to India. They were also very worried about a family member who was India at the time of the partition and they weren't sure if he'd make it across the border. They also lost the freedom to travel around, especially to India. They now had restrictions and were no longer able to go where they wanted. And the violence didn't stop there -- my father recalls wars in 1965 and in 1971.