“At first, I tried phoning regularly, almost every day. Then it changed from everyday to every week-end. Talking on the phone is not the same, and it becomes very expensive. Over the years, I have basically lost touch with most of my friends, even some of the closest ones,” He speaks in somewhat sad tone, with pain spilling out of his words, “I still call my friends, we email more than phone. We still understand each-other, but it is not the same. I am no longer a part of the friendship circle that I left behind.”
This is true for most of the NRIs. We often talk about going abroad; living overseas and we share our experiences in the foreign countries. We explore the pros and cons of leaving our homeland and settling overseas.At a party or a week-end get-together, or during other social meetings overseas, we often talk about our desi experiences – the good stuff, the bad side and the compromises of living abroad.
However, one of the least discussed and the most unfortunate side-effect of the whole thing – going abroad and settling overseas, – is the emotional and social impact it has on our psychology. Maybe, because we don’t like to talk about something very personal. Perhaps it is uncomfortable and often painful to discuss something that was much cherished and now lost.
“What we leave behind is lost forever. You cannot go back after years and restart from where you left. Time does not wait for anyone, and people have moved on. Maybe that’s how it is supposed to be, but there are some aspects of going abroad that I will always miss – the circle of friends and families. Yes, I am richer now, but at what cost, I often wonder.”
The NRI society often compares the economic benefits and patriotic downsides of living abroad, but we barely discuss the emotional and personal aspect of this experience. Maybe because it does not need to be discussed, it is right in front of us in true colors. Or maybe, we don’t like to talk about something that we often blame ourselves for. Whatever the case may be, the biggest impact of going overseas is not the economic gains or social suffering in the foreign land, or the culture shock abroad. The biggest and the most lasting aspect of going overseas is the personal and emotional losses, the ones we rarely share with others.
A part of the whole thing – the way we feel and look back after years, – could be the fact that we leave behind the simpler lives to take on the burdens of being grownups. The responsibilities grow as we grow older.
“I don’t talk much about all this with my new friends, because I don’t think they will understand. The friendships of younger years are much more innocent and much more precious than when we are grown up. Now we think with our brains before we do anything. Back then, we used to think, or rather feel, with our hearts. It is not the same.”
Yes, it is not the same. We uproot ourselves from a social circle built over the years, since childhood. We suddenly leave behind the friendships and relations that were too strong and too special to explain. We leave behind the possibilities of sharing new seasons of every year with those ‘special someones’. We exclude ourselves from the daily get-togethers in the play-grounds, the wanderings with no destination, and the surroundings of our own culture.
We leave behind the trivial meetings that used to last forever. The meetings that had no special meaning at that time but you still remember them, even years later. We give up the chances to attend weddings of our friends. We lose the opportunities to bid final farewell to the aging elders. We leave behind the emotional ties, and the feelings of our relations. We leave behind so much, and yet we seldom talk about it. Perhaps, because it is gone forever.
“I always wonder how it would have been, good or bad, if I had decided to stay in India. Maybe everything happens for a reason. But sometimes, I feel like a coward walking out of everybody’s life who was important to me, who meant something to me.”
PS: The bits and pieces of ‘quoted discussion’ above are from some NRI friends, no names are included as per the requests.
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