Red, White and Blue

Though they all came into the court room as citizens from different countries, they all left as citizens from the same country…the United States of America. Though A entered this country a little over 10 years ago, his journey to this moment in time, began long before then. It isn’t surprising that he would become a citizen, as one of the characteristics that defines successful Americans is a “hard worker.” Another characteristic, “determined.”
Born in a hut, on a stormy night, the first born son, his name would mean “blessing.” There were no doctors, scales or a way to document this event. His last name came from a teacher who named him, as he didn’t have one. It would be years later when his brother would enroll in school that they would learn of the family name, “Kathwal.” Accelerated through school, at a grade level higher than what he should have been, he graduated with a degree in computer science. He was offered a full scholarship to get his masters, but his parents refused to let him as they needed him to provide for “the family” and pay for his younger siblings education. He and his brother would work side by side, without anyone ever knowing that they were brothers, as they both had different last names. He speaks of times when he use to lead his Grandfather’s buffalo’s on his farm, the times when he would avoid getting powder in his face on Holi, and how they would sing Christmas carols. Yes, Christmas carols. Though his mother was Hindu, his father was converted into Christianity. He would speak of the times when his Dad would sleep all the time and play cards. He would convey how he and his brother would go with his Mom to the market to carry all the bags back. Rice was a staple in their diet.
With the first pay check he made, he surprised his mother and bought her a beautiful silk sari. One of the first things that she showed me when I met her in October of 2003 was a big diamond nose ring that she said Ashish also bought her. When his father said she was sick and he wasn’t going to take care of her, he went and got his mother and brought her here to seek medical treatment. He was always a good son to the lady who gave him life.
He came to this country with $500, one suitcase and a job offer. A job that he interviewed for back in India. He didn’t know anyone here or have any “connections.” Yet, he and I, found one another. We grew up on opposite sides of the world, we had vastly different up bringing and childhoods…but here we are, together, married now for 6 years…together for 8 years.
In many ways, he is an inspiration…he started from the ground up and built all he has single handedly–well, with my help some years down the road (ha,ha). Educated and open minded, he respected his “traditions” but didn’t let culture bind him or stunt his growth. When his parents wanted him to get an arranged marriage, he didn’t–stating that he was going to marry me. I can only imagine the strength it took to stand up for what you believe in and go against generations of “traditions.”
The road he has traveled has not been paved with gold…there have been some speed bumps. However, here he stands…in my eyes, no pedestal could do him justice. He is mine and I am his- without the limitation of this life, but rather “forever.” What can I say? I simply can not resist him- so handsome, so smart…what a perfect combination.
Congrats, to a most well-deserving man! This is something you did on your own, without any suggestion of mine…You now have a voice in the country that you in, have a family, own a house at, paid taxes to….though you’ve been here for almost 11 years, “WELCOME!” It was an honor to witness something that we “born” into this country take for granted so easily. It was especially touching to see the people stand that were becoming citizens from Iraq and Afghanistan. All in all, a very moving experience…an experience that reminded me to be a proud American. How proud we were to sit there and witness such a special day.