Being an alone immigrant

People often envy the life I have lead; they have been fascinated by my story starting from my time in Bangalore to Belgium to Ireland and now to England. I like to think I am well liked, and as I have often mentioned countless times, things may not have always gone my way but I always have had the best people around me to help me out.

But the toll of such a life is tremendous and it is often lost on people who haven’t lead this life. And when the realisation dawns on me, it hits like a massive wave, and brings me to a borderline panic attack. Just to give you an insight, if I were to die right now, I don’t know if the news will reach my parents within 24 hours. If Jack, my housemate, is away on vacation, I doubt if someone will find me in a week. There is right now a restriction on passengers from India, so my parents cannot come. Even if the ban was not in place, they don’t have a visa. And the similar situation holds for my sister. The only hope for the repatriation of my dead body is probably Ciara.

Why such macabre thoughts, you may ask? I dunno; maybe it has its roots in the death of a few people close to my family in the ongoing COVID crisis in India. Recently I picked up a book on the IRA written by Kevin Toolis. The book was first published in 1995 and it is amazing how many top IRA members he managed to interview. The rebels were always aware that they could die the very next time they are on the streets, but they did not let that deter them. I am no revolutionary, but I think being surrounded by people who believe the same helped them get over the fear. I doubt how many of them would like to be lonely in their final moments.

Death can always be a moment’s notice away and once you are dead, do you really care what happens? Maybe not. But I don’t want to be alone in my final moments. Of course, I can be hit by a car and die on the road. Should I be just scared and not leave home?

The answer is no, you keep going. You sleep alone in your bed, staring into the ceiling. You ask Google to play soothing sounds but they don’t really fill the emptiness in your room, does it? It is particularly hard for people like me who are very picky of who we let into our lives. I live in a time zone that is (almost) midway between US and India. It’s early morning there and my friends are catching up on their last bit of REM sleep. It’s late evening in the states and my family is just returning from work or just about to prepare their dinners. Where do I fit in?

The COVID crisis has definitely not helped. Every major news outlet just pays lip service to the impact the lockdowns and restrictions have had on the mental health of the general population. But the effects of that are not immediate, it will take years for it surface. Somebody dying, well, it’s more immediate and does not bode well for a government seeking re-election. But then people refuse to take precautions on their own! It does not hurt to wear a mask, or to maintain safe distance. They need the government to impose strict lockdowns. I appreciate the model followed by Sweden, as controversial as that may sound. People have been empowered to make their own choices.

It’s not being easy away from family, acclimating to a new culture, to a new place. Every time I want to buy something huge, I would be like, “How long will I be in this place for? If I had to leave tomorrow, can I even afford to move all of this stuff back to India? Maybe it’s a problem unique to me who has changed three countries in as many years.

But then, as the night draws on, you decide that you have rambled enough. You try to get sleep in the few hours left before you need to start the drudgery to survive the capitalistic world. Nobody needs to know the story behind that smiling face.