The Immigrant Diaries – Edition 7 – Venturing out
Here is the next edition of the ‘Immigrant Diaries’ – a serialised story of the adventures and adjustments of life on an H4 visa or that of a new immigrant in the US. It started with Ruchi’s semi-blind love marriage to Arjun, and her trip to the US to her new life. You can find edition 6 here.
The driving test had gone smoother than expected. Arjun had recommended that she drive extremely slow and she had followed his advice much to the exasperation of the friendly African American guy who her Driving Examiner. ‘Lady’, he said, ‘Just ram your foot on the pedal. I may have to fail you for going so slow’. But despite that comment and being able to parallel park in two tries, she had passed with flying colors.
Tucked into her red leather wallet was her new Georgia Drivers License. The feeling was very liberating, even though she had not yet ventured out in the car on her own. It meant she now had a US issued ID and that she would not have to lug her passport around for flights within the country or other such purposes. Another step, she thought, towards belonging.
The whole experience leading up to the license test had been a revelation of sorts in her relationship with Arjun. After they first real ‘fight’, there had been several others, of varying intensity and not all related to driving. Sometimes she had found herself initiating them. It was as if after months of being on their best behavior they were finally relaxing, letting go of some of the tension of trying to have a perfect first year.
It had relaxed them in other ways. They had begun going on quick weekend day trips to places around Atlanta. The charming pseudo German town of Helen, Rock City and Ruby Falls, the Anna Ruby falls. They drove down to the Chattahoochee River that crawled around Atlanta and spend an evening sitting on the shore, watching people go by on kayaks and canoes. Whereas Dolly had been her confidant, she found herself talking more to Arjun now. Life wasn’t as smooth but wasn’t as tense either.
And then one Saturday morning, Arjun, having worked late most of the week refused to get out of bed.
‘Come on,’ she said, ‘these are the only two days I have in the week to go out. I don’t want to lose that.’
‘Well,’ (and she knew it had to come at some point) ‘now you can drive. Take the car.’
And then he settled back onto the rumpled pillows cementing his decision with loud snores.
She pondered and paced. She had to get out. She had been up for three hours and the apartment was getting on her nerves, as it did on the weekends. Well Kroger wasn’t that far. And it was right next to a Target. She had driven there several times with Arjun.
She picked up her keys and left. Down the gray road inside the apartment complex to the gate and then the left turn onto the main road. And then two right turns, a couple of stops and she was there. It seemed to have taken a long time but she had done it. Tiny stabs of excitement clawed at her throat. She stepped out of the car trying to look casual and elegant when she actually wanted to call home, her mom, Arjun, anyone who cared and tell them.
She walked up and down Target, perusing the aisles. She could buy nothing. The feeling of being out on her own was too overwhelming to allow her to deal with picking up the next St. Ives Lotion or wooden spatula for her home. She flicked through the clothes, always aware – I am alone, I am alone.
By the time she was done with Kroger it was late. Time for lunch. She walked over to the neighboring ‘Orient Express’ for some takeout. Just her decisions. No Arjun to talk to.
And then she drove back home. Just a little more American than before.
(To be Continued)
I also write on other topics related to the H4 visa. One on improving your career while on the H4 visa and one on volunteering on H4 visa are here and linked to others. A latest one on activities to try on H4 is here.
Do let me know your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear them. Also, it would be great if you register on the site and share your H4 stories but that is not neccessary for comments.
Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi
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