The H4 identity

A lot of effort has gone into making the word identity relevant, especially for a breed like mine.

I remember pressing my thumbs and fingers very diligently at the immigration counter when I first set foot in the United States. I was ID’d. I was now in their records and that was it. It would give me a sense of placement somewhere down the road.

I did that many times thereafter—trying to establish my identity.

When I began working in Bombay many moons ago, there was a time in my career, where I rocketed into job opportunities. Quick jumps, good positions, great offices, you know, the shines.

I was able to shield family expenses and think of a fairly decent future ahead. I had, if you may, destiny on my side.  Picture baaki hai mere dost!

When I began my second innings of life in the U.S., I came to realize slowly that there is a HUGE emphasis on the word dependent. Well, that was the name of my visa that then became the shape of my life for years to come and also my biggest nemesis.

Operation Lifestyle!

To pursue anything, I never was Jyothi, I was always the dependent of someone. I could not have a social security card; I could have a driver’s license that was dependent on my status, which of course was dependent on other factors. I was always the dependent credit card holder, and well, if I fell sick, my healthcare forms always requested information of the main insurance holder.

Being a homemaker is no joke. It is admirable how many of them—men (a rather rare breed)/women spruce up energy every single day to maintain their homes by fulfilling a trillion chores around them.

I was ok being one; honestly I enjoyed it for a while. But after a point I was done cooling my heels.

That’s when nasty reality came to bite my butt and chew my soul.

Operation Job Hunt!

If I was qualified, I couldn’t be sponsored (for a work visa), If I wanted to apply for a job that was perfect for me, and if I ever so mentioned the word sponsorship, I was an outcast, if I didn’t like the job profile and applied anyway, well…I never heard back.

That kind of horrifying reality for over 3 years brought a very different shade inside me and … well outside too.

I stopped believing in goodness, I had no confidence, even to strike a friendly conversation. I had expired every single cell of hope within me. I looked anxious all the time. Every day was an unknown.

I remember I was at a friend’s place for a New Year’s party around this time, and one guy kept calling a few of us who unfortunately had no luck or opportunity on our side, “Hey H4s! What’s up H4s!” –all evening.

That stung so bad because that’s what my identity had been reduced to. (I wish I came across this great soul one day…I have a lot to say now.)

It didn’t help chatting with people back home because the solution to this situation was – have kids this is a great time, you will be occupied. Really thanks!

Failure does that to you. It kneads you so deeply into the realm of impossibility, you hardly feel like you’ll ever bounce back.

After many years there was light shining in my door. I finally did overcome all the visa voodoo spells that were cast on me with my first job.

It took me a while, but I worked really hard in my to instill faith in my self and overcome those moments of doubt that had resided in my for a long time now. It wasn’t just the new job. It was telling myself that my best is yet to come and that I never give up after having come this far.

I bet to many, this might seem like big deal, shit happens, pick your pieces and move on.

It is one thing to aim for the stars when you have no desire to work for it, but it is brutal when you have the chops and you receive a big fat rejection all the time.

Today the rules are slightly better, (I think many of us howled loudly for some justice for the forewarned).

Even so, for any of you who have been through this dynamite of a situation, or are facing it, I know what you feel.

But don’t give up on yourself. Your best is yet to come and it will.

And when it does, you will know that what you stand for and who you are is much more than any visa-job-status-position.

I feel that every day and I know… tomorrow is only going to be better.

Jyothi Shetty is a guest writer at The Brown Desi. In her optimum habitat, she would concoct meals and tales all day. She hopes to build a 'wordcatcher' and wishes to be buried in a book.