Guns & Saris

"The hood is a tough place to be. Your surroundings can change within a split second, and you always have to watch your back. Otherwise, they won't know what happened to you until they find your dead body." He turned his head and looked at me with his hazel eyes, which were intimidating, desperate, and beautiful.

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1. American Nightmare

I groaned as I exited the plane and walked into the airport. I never asked to leave Toronto, and for all the struggle I went through to convince myself to leave, you'd think that it would be at least be like or London or Mexico. But no, it has to be Chicago, of all places, where the crappy weather and ghetto towns bring back haunting memories of home.

"Smile, chinna." My mom briefly came up behind me and touched my shoulders, before leading me to immigration. I bit back a sassy reply, because I didn't want to make Amma's life any harder. Chinna means little in Telugu, our native Indian language, so that's her way of comforting me and making me feel like a little kid again. I really appreciate her optimism in this situation, especially since she is usually the most stressed person in the family.

I handed the officer my Canadian passport, and he quickly surveyed my face to see if it matched my goofy, 3-year-old picture. The 14-year-old Samira Ivaturi in the picture was innocent, sweet, näive, and unaware of the crap she'll encounter in the future. Every time I look at that picture, it makes me want to break down and beg God to let me go back to those days. 

I remember all of those days I sat and cried in front of the large statue of Lord Shiva, the destroyer of evil, in the prayer room at my old house, telling him I was sorry for my sins. Every mantra I chanted, every flower I dropped at the Lord's feet, and every incense stick I lit made my tears dry up little by little, but the anguish and the memories failed to vanish.

Sighing, I grabbed my suitcase off of the conveyor belt and made my way out. My uncle, aunt, and cousin, Sanjana, were waiting for us at the arrival area, smiling. "WELCOME TO AMERICA!" They screamed in unison, causing my lips to bend into a slight smile. Hugging my aunt and Sanju, I dragged my suitcase out the sliding doors of O'Hare International Airport. Before I climbed into the back of the SUV, I caught a glimpse of an airplane take off, and wondered how many people were escaping their struggles like me. 

"How was the journey, Samira?" inquired Anand Uncle, once all of the people and the luggage got in.

"Fine, Babai." I responded, with a weak, jetlagged voice. Babai refers to your dad's younger brother in this case, but it also could refer to mom's younger sister's husband.

Most people come to America wishing for a better life, so that they can pursue that the American Dream. Well, I think that dream just turned into a nightmare for me.

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