Daivat Pandya

Daivat Pandya

Indianapolis, IN

Documented non-immigrant? At least, that’s how I am classified according to United States government. I am not really an eloquent writer like Jose Vargas, but I’d try my best to tell a bit about me.

I came to US in 2006 when I was 20 years old to study something which I was very interested in since my teenage. I wanted to study Astronomy as it had become my biggest passion. Now, the country where I’m from is so backward and conservative that average person does not even know the difference between astrology and astronomy. I tried to find colleges in the whole country and found that there is not even a single college who is offering research based study on Astronomy. I realized that I had only one life and I’d do anything to pursue something which has my heart in it. I came here, got a scholarship because of my grades, and started to study passionately.

As time passed by, I started to love American culture. Coming from a extreme conservative country, I realized the importance of true freedom after knowing more about America. I gradually became more and more American. My passion towards scientific research made me think how unimportant and discouraging all religions are, and I became atheist. Atheist? The fact that I can proudly write such word is the reason why I want to live my entire life here. Now, this is called real freedom.

Even thinking of declaring yourself as anti-religious in my birth country (which I don’t consider as my home country anymore) would have dire consequences to a person. I have witnessed strong violations where people from different faiths were burnt alive on the public road. Yes, not just that, these riots are considered so normal there that people don’t even consider if there’s anything wrong in that. I never wanted to literally get killed, when I knew that science was able to answer all the questions of human mind than the religions would do. I was enjoying my studies, but then something strange happened suddenly. I started to suffer from clinical depression and the effect on my studies started to appear. Considering myself as one of the smartest students from my childhood, this was a very discouraging experience for me. That fact actually made my depression worse, and its effects were multiplied in the academics. This was going through cycle and coming from and uneducated country, I had absolutely no idea what was going through me. Back there, people didn’t know the difference between sadness and depression, neither do I as I was never interested in studying human physiology. Somebody suggested me to go to a psychiatrist, but I never wanted to consider myself as crazy. The conditions were really worse and if anything was remaining, a terrible blow in my personal life made my depressive state extremely extremely worst. Again, this personal crisis were attached to the culture of the country where I was from. I could not bear that culture anymore. It was extremely difficult for me to keep myself alive when I absolutely lost the purpose of my life.

After suffering from this for 2.5 years, I came to know what I was going through and finally decided that I needed a medical care and to admit to myself that there’s something mentally wrong in me. The fact that my fingers were shivering typing the above paragraphs itself means those anxiety provoking situations were worst. After taking a break from studies and taking treatment for 5 months I somehow managed to study again and got my degree. But somewhere in there, I completely lost my true identity and became a complete American. I never wanted to go back and suffer through that culture or possibly get killed. I was now, a scientist by qualification, but none of the jobs were for me, as being a US citizen is considered as the qualification in the jobs. As I could not find any job in Astronomy field, I had to lose my immigration status, which many would call as “illegal.” I cannot stop my tears when I realize that even though being a scientist and a true American by heart, I have to do menial jobs and get exploited by employers because of my immigration status. Even though, being highly educated, I have to work on wages way lower than minimum wage requirements. I am not a DREAMer, according to the popular definition of DREAM act, but I still consider myself as an American. I still wonder if coming to America as a minor is a requirement, to call yourself innocent. The future of Astronomical research is only in America and I’d never want to go to a place where I cannot live the life the way I want. I have not properly justified my true feelings of being an American, and rather ended up describing more about my mental conditions. But I am a novice writer, and my true feelings about America cannot really be expressed in words. I always wonder if birds and animals can go whereever they like on earth, why are humans so different? After all, all borders and boundaries are human made. If the person can travel from one state to another without any problem, what is wrong with the person who born at the other part of earth? Why do I have to live a life on a place where my sheer existence is on threat every single second? Opponents of immigration reform do not realize the fact that some people prefer to commit suicide than to be sent to a place where they don’t want to go.

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