My Journey from the Slums of Pithoro to the United States of America

“Dream bigger, work harder”. These were the words I grew up hearing. My grandfather, a retired government employee always, always had great expectations from me. His words, his guidance and his pointers fascinated me quite a lot. Being born in a small rural town of Pithoro, it was always a dream of mine to touch the sky. It was my grandfather who made me realize that the sky isn’t the limit, because there’re footprints on the moon, too. My grandfather, a Television geek, loved to watch Indian dramas and movies. But my interests were different. I was always more of a Hollywood person. At the age of 6, when I watched this movie called Home Alone, I had made up my mind that I would go to the United States one day. And I had absolutely no reason to veer now. The actors’ colorful attires and unique ways of living life held me spellbound. The never sleeping city of Chicago and its charm always had me transfixed.

Years passed, my family moved to another city (a complete urbanized area) leaving everything behind; our ancestral property, my grandparents and the rest of our family. But distances increase love, no? Yes, they do. I got more close to my grandparents. It was harder at first to leave everything like this, but time is the best healer. My love for my grandparents grew exponentially. We’d visit them once or twice a month. My grandfather’s little pieces of advice helped me tackle almost every stumbling block I came across. Living miles away from me, he was still very close.

Being raised up by a middle class family, it sometimes gets onerous for your parents to make all your wishes come true. But my parents tried their best to give me the best of all the things. They say, “Life is a box full of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get next”. The only difference is that the chocolate this time tasted bitter and was hard to swallow. I can’t help whining remembering the most miserable day of our lives. December 10th, 2014 was a woebegone day altogether. Seeing the lifeless corpse of my grandfather lying on a bed was a legit denial for me.  I had seen his versions; I think I wasn’t ready to behold him like I was witnessing him then. His death left me in delirium.

Over time we did get over that tragedy but now was the time for me to fulfill his wishes. I wanted to make him proud of me. I wanted to do everything that made him ecstatic. On November 20th, I applied to a fully funded exchange program. I wanted to try my luck. After a month and a half I got an interview call. One thing led to another and I was done with the rigorous process of selection. Exactly three years later, I got a call from the selection committee. I had been selected of 1100 applicants, I was one of the luckiest 24 candidates. It left me numb. I could feel tears trickle down my cheeks. This felt so surreal yet exciting. I was actually going to the United States of America.

On reaching the Dulles Airport, all I did was imagine my grandfather smiling from the top patting my back. I, a 17 year old individual, was living the best time of my life without my most favorite person in the whole wide world. This is my journey from the slums of Pithoro to The United States of America.

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