“Yes, I know 2 lac for a flight is expensive but we cannot have you deported and so this is the only choice you have,” said my mami (maternal aunt) with whom I had been staying for three months now in the US.
I am Anuya Pharande, from India, studying at the San Francisco Art University in California since August 2019. My parents are quite conservative and it took all my efforts to convince them to send me to the US to study. There was a huge dramatic scene at home when I told them that I wanted to study abroad. After a lot of tears, anger, pleadings and begging they finally agreed to send me.
Coming to the US was my only chance to experience and explore ‘my life’ and not something that was guided and dictated by my parents. I was living the best time of my life since August-- firstly because I had never ever stayed away from home even for a week and here I was, settling in quite well, independently, on my own, thousands of miles away from home in the US.
I FELT ON TOP OF THE WORLD; LIKE I COULD BREATHE ONCE AGAIN FREELY; LIKE I WAS LIVING MY LIFE AND NOT MY PARENTS.
Living here was a dream come true. I bought myself a bicycle to cycle to college from the hostel campus (what fun given the clean air, honk free streets and cyclist friendly roads); I was working in a library near my college as a part-time employee and hence, I was earning for myself--for the first time in my 24 years of life.
I used to go hiking with my friends and the best thing was that I got to experience snowfall for the first time in my life in December.
I WAS GENUINELY HAPPY TO THE CORE OF MY BEING.
But with the COVID pandemic, all of my dreams of living and exploring my life before either getting married or joining dad's business have been shattered into bits….I can’t put my dream back together again.
When the COVID regulations and spread was on it’s peak in the US, our universities closed down. My hostel too was shut down in February so I had to move in with my mami in San Jose, California. My mama and mami were the only reason why my parents had agreed to send me to the US in the first place.
Staying with my relatives was not so bad; I had my moments of freedom and was hoping my life would get back on track post-COVID, but here I am instead forced to pack my bags and move back to India.
US recently declared that students whose colleges are completely online should go back else they will be deported-this has created panic among all foreign students, although the universities have challenged the order, yet we, foreign students, feel fearful and anxious.
I had a small dream of living my life independently for a few years, being on my own, enjoying my youth, trying to discover myself, experiencing life and before any of that could actually happen, I am forced to come back with no clarity on if and when I will be able to ever come back here again.
I don’t know why all of this had to happen now. I am really heartbroken because I cannot even fulfil my dream and just because of me my family has to bear such a huge expense. It would’ve been better if I’d be infected with the virus instead. I wouldn’t have had to go back to India and kill all my dreams.
I don’t know what my life has in store now.. I feel so lost right now and there is no one who’d be able to understand the amount of sadness and pressure I am going through…