Khushwinder (name changed for anonymity) was happy to talk about his life. He said “I am feeling like a celebrity doing this interview. Nobody has interviewed me before. I am feeling very special.” I was also happy to see him ready for this interview. Then I asked him how his family was and where he belonged from. He started talking and told me that he is from Ferozepur which is a very small town in the state of Punjab in india. His town is very small and it is on the border of Pakistan and India.
He told me that his house is 5 miles from the international border and he used to go to the border wall and he used to see Pakistan soldiers in their uniforms carrying guns. His family is made up of four people including him. They have 10 acres of land near the border and his dad is a farmer. He still actively works in his farms and his father treats his land like his mom. He said “my father loves our land so much because he acquired this land from his father. Their family condition was not that good before coming here, because agriculture is not that much profitable now. It is a loss making work. He explained, they used to borrow a lot of money from local wealthy people – with interest and then pay back when they sell their grains in the middle of the year and at the end of the year.”
He said,’’ My father used to borrow money for fertilizers and day to day expenses.” They used to live their lives like
a lower middle class family. They have to wait for June and July until they buy their stuff like shoes , clothes and new school bags.” Life was tough back in India”, he said.
I was seeing him feeling a little sad reminiscing his old memories. Then I asked if it was the same when you were about to come here. He replied, “Yes, it was the same.” I asked him how India was when you came here. He told me in 2019, the elections returned the same government to power – a right wing government. The government is pushing one party, one election and one religion. Since we were sikh, (a minority religion in India) we were getting scared of our lives. There were a lot of problems in that government. They wanted to reform agriculture. The government was saying they are promoting agriculture reforms to double the income of farmers. But they were not doing what they were saying.”
“They wanted to give the agriculture in the hands of private people who will exploit farmers to get more profits. The government just wanted to pay less money in buying grains from farmers. The situation was horrible to live in India at that time and still it is for farmers.” I was looking at Khush’s eyes when he was explaining that to me. He was
trying to hide his tears. I comforted him and I asked what was your most favorable memory when you were coming to America. He said, “Everything.” Khush explained to me and said “when i was coming to this country i was very scared. He said if i had a choice to make my life better in India, I would have never left India.
He said, “a week before I started my journey. I used to get nightmares of getting stuck in jungles or snakes biting or drawing in water when crossing bIg rivers.” He said, “the memory that gives me goosebumps until this day is when they were about to deport me from camp. He said I appeared in front to immigration judge told me that I don’t believe anything you said and I am ordering your deportation back to india. I explained to the judge that if I go back to India I will not be able to live even a second. They will kill me.”
“Who will kill you?” I asked. Khush just got a little defensive and replied, “I am not comfortable sharing that.” I replied “okay.” I said I know already but just wanna ask again for this interview, Did you enter legally or illegally. He said,“I illegally came to America. I went to Mexico on a flight. From there, I crossed the American-Mexico border. Then the border control pulled us and we were thrown in camps. Where they were about to deport me from.”
Did you go to school here? ‘’ I asked. He replied, “i can remember I was 33 years old. When I came to america. I was not put into any school since I was a full grown adult. So, I didn’t go to school.” He became a truck driver and spends 6 days per week on the road.
“Do you miss india?” He said “I think I miss it every second, before I used to live free so I miss that everytime i go to work. I miss my parents, I miss my neighbors, my relatives and every time they have some kind of party. I Want to go back. Have you done that if you have a choice. To
“Did you even imagine that?” He said “i did, i knew that it is not going to be easy when i immigrate. I had heard a lot of stories about the immigration and they were very bad.
This interview and narrative were done by Vishal Narula.