Journey of an Immigrant: The American Dream

Journey of an Immigrant: The American Dream

by Saisnath Baijoo

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Overview

This book is a journey of life. It is a gripping and emotional journey. The contents portrays the true life of my Forefathers, my parents and myself from India to The West Indies and then to USA. It details the hardships of a foreign people adapting to a totally new and different culture.
However, the book provides positive solutions to life problems. In Trinidad, I owned and operated my pharmacy before migrating to Florida.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490734231
Publisher: Author Solutions Inc
Publication date: 05/09/2014
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Saisnath Baijoo was born in Trinidad in the West Indies. He received his earliest education at Caroni Hindu School. Then at Tunapuna Government Secondary and Hillview College.He studied Pharmacy at the University of the West Indies.
He is an avid sportsman. He played cricket, table tennis and soccer. He loves fishing and all types of music. He migrated to USA about fourteen years ago. He is a registered pharmacist in Florida. He has worked and managed a lot of Pharmacies in Florida. A very family oriented father. Loves all deep philosophies and great writers. Enjoys traveling and writing with passion.

Read an Excerpt

Journey of an Immigrant

The American Dream


By Saisnath Baijoo

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Saisnath Baijoo
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-3423-1



CHAPTER 1

Our Journey Begins: Reflections of My Beloved Trinidad


He waved sadly as I bade my final farewell. Tears streamed down his wrinkled face. There were tears of joy that his son was migrating to live the American dream. There were tears of sadness and uncertainty.

He pondered whether he would live to see his son again. He hugged me tightly with his fragile yet robust body. He looked at me sternly, as tears poured from his eyes, and said, "Do not forget your roots and your culture. Do not be a living dead in America. Make a meaningful impact on the American society. Always help those that need help even in the smallest way."

I shook my head in acknowledgment of his wise advice. Then I reached down and touched my parents' feet as a mark of respect and reverence for their guidance and for sheltering me from all troubles throughout my life.

He continued very emotionally, "I may not see you again. America is now your adopted country. Do not look back. If you look back, you will fail in your endeavors. Capture the American dream. I know you are determined to conquer anything. You must love and respect everyone. Be humble, but be strong. Being humble does not make you weak. In fact, it sets your life to a different level in the sight of God."

My parents are my mentor and heroes. They are my rock of Gibraltar in my life. They molded my life with a solid foundation. It seems like a whole village had come to Piarco International Airport to say their last farewell. My five sisters, my four brothers, and their children were all at the airport.

The previous night, they had organized a farewell party for my family and I.

It was a very sad and emotional time at the airport. They were all sad but happy for my family and me. My name is Moonan. My parents' names are Baijoo and Kowsillia. This is my story. It is a journey into life.

This is the journey of an immigrant in search of the American dream. With tear-filled eyes, I turned to my parents and said, "I will make you proud. My heart and prayers will always be with you all. How can I forget the best parents in this world? You sacrificed your life to make me happy. You molded me to be strong. You are my life."

Then my son Jewan spoke to me, saying, "Your absence here will create a big vacuum in my life. I do not want to lose that loving and harmonious relationship that we have presently. You will always be my father who means the world to me. I will miss you."

He hugged me tightly as if it was our last farewell.

Our time to go through Immigration was quickly approaching, so I spoke to everyone before departing.

My voice quivered while I spoke, saying, "We have always been a close family. My life is not complete without every one of you. Therefore, we must not lose that bond. When we lose that close bond with each other, we lose the essence of living. I promise that I will call you all as often as possible."

Everyone wanted a farewell embrace.

I hugged my son tightly for the last time. Tears streamed down my face, and I said, "I will miss you. Please focus on your university studies. That is priority in your life. Do not forget the good times that we had together."

He nodded his head, acknowledging my request.

My two eldest daughters, Hema and Puja, were anxious to board the plane on their new adventure.

Hema shouted, "Let us go, Daddy, before the plane leaves us."

They are my two eldest daughters. They can light up any dull moment with their zest for life and their comical nature. My wife, Sandra, and our baby Mala was also coming. We waved our last farewell to all our families and well-wishers.

We boarded the plane amid heightened security.

There was an eerie silence and a certain nervous tension inside the plane. The repercussion was because of 9/11. Everyone was worried whether there will be other attacks. Just a month before, we had seen the senseless and vicious terrorist attack on my adopted country. My father always taught me that all forms of life are sacred. We cannot create life, so we should not destroy it. I sat on the plane and reflected: What a wanton waste and disregard for life! Surely, these terrorists had families or children of their own. The flight left Trinidad without any problems or delays.

My family had fallen asleep. I could tell by their familiar snoring sounds. They had enjoyed themselves throughout the previous night at a farewell party at my brother's home.

Suddenly, the plane was shaking vigorously. My heart skipped a beat. Then the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. We are experiencing unusual turbulent weather. Please, under no condition should you leave your seats. Flight attendants, go to your seats at once."

The pilot had not finished speaking when suddenly; the plane plummeted in altitude as though it was out of control. Everyone was either screaming or praying. My family was still sounding asleep. They were unperturbed as the plane was tossed helplessly. The plane was tossed like a little ragged doll in the turbulent weather. The luggage bins were opening, and a few suitcases fell on unsuspecting passengers. This horrible ordeal continued for about an hour. All the passengers were traumatized every minute into this terror flight. One minute there were shouts of fear, and then there was a deadly silence. There were abrupt and periodic ascending and descending of the plane. After about three hours, the pilot announced that the rest of the flight would be smooth. Everyone was visibly shaken by this ordeal. My family slept throughout the whole ordeal. Then the pilot announced that we were landing in half an hour. Everyone was elated. I awoke my sleepy family from their very deep slumber.

It was time to get prepared for landing. We hurriedly departed from the plane and proceeded through Immigration. Notably absent was laughter or joy coming from the arriving passengers to the land of the free. When we reached the line, the Immigration officer looked at the documents and said, "Please follow the officer to the other room. We have to verify some information."

My family was terrified. Sandra, my wife, asked, "What is going on? Are you sure that all our relevant documents are in order?"

"Everything will be all right. God takes care of his people. Do not worry. Everything will be all right. Besides, I rechecked all our documents a few times" was my hesitant reply.

Somehow, those words did not provide comfort to anyone at that time.

We were hastily escorted into a waiting room that was full of distressed passengers.

It was a pitiful sight. There were many worried faces in that detention room. Some of the detained passengers were crying uncontrollably.

This made us think that something was definitely wrong with our Immigration documents. Why were we detained? We approached the officer sitting at the desk. I tried to ask the officer what the problem was with our documents. He was visibly upset and said, "I will call you when I am ready. Until then, have a seat. No unnecessary talking, and do not use a cell phone."

I was simply trying to tell him that we needed to change our baby Mala's diapers. We needed to use the restroom.

We saw people come after us, and their names were called, but there was no word from the dedicated officers about our concerns.

We were detained for seven hours without an explanation. After this time, the officer summoned us, waving our documents in his hand and saying, "You all may leave now."

There was no explanation or apology from anyone as to the reason for our detention. I told my family, "It is better to be sure and secure."

From Trinidad to Miami and Immigration, it normally takes about four-and-a-half hours.

This time, it took eleven-and-a-half hours. We left the airport, visibly upset. By now, the sun was peeping through the glorious morning skies. We boarded a taxi and headed for the Best Western hotel. Everyone was tired and upset. No one wanted to discuss the unmannerly welcome that we received to the United States of America.

At the Best Western hotel, my family booked into one room. We had to save money because we did not know when I would be employed. I dozed off on the couch.

My mind ran back to our beloved Trinidad. I was born in a small village in Trinidad called Caroni village. It was a beautiful and scenic area.

The Caroni River meanders gracefully on its borders. Lush green bamboo trees, poui trees, and variety of multicolored trees surround this scenic area. They add to the tranquil beauty of the area. My forefathers were conned into coming from India to Trinidad by their British colonial masters. They were brought to the West Indies as slaves or the glorified term "contract workers." When they reached the West Indies, their status changed to slaves. They were beaten and battered in the most inhumane way possible. They lived in tents called barracks. They lived in the most deplorable conditions.

My parents, like their parents, worked in the sugar plantations. They worked from dusk to dawn. As a child, my brothers and sisters assisted my parents in cutting and loading the canes onto carts. The cane was weighed and then transported to the sugar mills to make sugar or alcohol. Therefore, child labor was legal. The British slave masters cursed and abused the last drop of dignity from a humble but proud people.

My parents always dreamed about going back to Mother India. However, with their meager wages, that dream was impossible. Their family had migrated from the ancient land of Bihar, India.

The history of Bihar is as old as human civilization. This was the land where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. One of the first universities for higher learning is located in Bihar.

The birthplace of Mother Sita is located in Punaura, Bihar. The author of the great epic Ramayana-Valmiki lived in Bihar.

With my parents, there was no time for a formal education. They just wanted to survive and maintain their children to a higher standard of living. My parents instilled in our mind, saying, "Do not stay in the cane fields. Do not be slaves like us. Get out from the sugarcane fields. There is no future here. Get an education and liberate yourself from the shackles of slavery. Look at your parents and rise above their status."

In the sugar estates, there was no break for meals. You ate while you were working. Despite all the hard labor, my parents still found time to raise ten children. My parents' concept was that their children were their wealth. It was comical that they nicknamed the British supervisor, Satan. The name, of course, refers to the devil in Christian doctrines.

This name, of course, was used when he was not in their presence. The British masters coerced the indentured slaves to abandon their culture, language, and religion.

They were hell-bent on converting all Indian slaves to Christianity. The idea was to totally transform the Indians to the British way of life. In return for conversion, they promised the Indians better jobs and schooling for the family. My parents believed that all religions were the same, so converting was like jumping from one fire to another.

My father proudly said, "I was born a Hindu, and I will die as one. Nothing that the British offers us will make me change my way of living."

My father had a good sense of humor. He said, "A newly converted Christian Indian from Hinduism invited his priest on Easter Friday for lunch. He served chicken to the priest. The priest was visibly upset. He told the new convert, 'Brother, at Easter time, it is customary that you serve fish, not chicken. You have to leave your old practices behind and move forward.' The new convert told the priest, 'Father, I am confused. You converted me from Hinduism to Christianity. Then surely you can convert the chicken to fish.'"

My father, even without a formal education, knew quotations from the Hindu Bible (the Bhagavad Gita). One such quotation was, "Whatever and whichever way men approach me (God), and even so do I accept them. Whatever pathways a believer may choose, finally lead to me. Again, in whatever form a devotee seeks to worship me with faith, I will make his faith steadfast in that form alone."

In my parents' tranquil world, God was simple. "It does not matter whether you call God by the name of Jesus or Allah or Ram. There is one God—only the names are different. All scriptures are inspiration of God. It is your personal devotion, faith, and love to God that is important. That is the key to the kingdom of heaven. God said, 'If anyone offers me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.' Look at all the streams, rivers, and lakes. They eventually flow into one ocean. Faith in God is the same concept. When you say that you love God, then you help people in need. That is the essence of living."

My parents were unperturbed by the many forces and propaganda to convert them to Christianity. They were unwavering in their desire to perform puja or prayers that were handed down from their forefathers. My parents were poor, but they invited the neighbors to share in the little food that they prepared for their family.

The whole village was one big family. They shared in the joy and suffering of every neighbor. My father told me once, "Look around at this prayer. There are Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. When you say that any one religion is the best, you blind yourself from the rest of the world. Do not grow up to be narrow-minded. Do not blind yourself from enjoying every culture. Look at the colors of the rainbow—that is a reflection of life. God sends that rainbow to remind us that the world is multicolored. No color in the rainbow is superior to the other one. Everyone here lives like a family, and that is what God wants in this life. He wants us to live with love and in harmony. That is the essence of salvation."

Growing up as a child in Caroni Village, all the neighbors cared and loved you like a big family.

They were never afraid to discipline you with a leather belt or a bamboo stick.

If your neighbor disciplined you and you complained to your parents, then you would get another beating. The whole village was one family unit. Everyone helped each other. When my mother helped a neighbor with their cooking, we had a free meal there.

My father's religion, Hinduism, taught him, "All men are equal. It does not matter what creed or race you were born into or your family. That is fate, and you have no choice in the matter. Wealth or money is Maya, or illusion. It does not guarantee happiness."

He continued, "If you want to conquer the world, embrace all philosophy and all scriptures."

My father was very strong physically. After working in the sugarcane fields, he still found time to fish with his children and plant a variety of crops.

Most of the crops he shared with the neighbors.

When the neighbors harvested their crops, they shared it with us. The bordering Caroni River was abundant with a variety of fishes, lobsters, and crabs. My brothers and sisters spent many pleasurable moments fishing. Every fishing expedition was a competition between family members. Everyone wanted to brag as to who will catch the biggest fish.

My mother was adamant that all her children receive a proper formal education. She knew their weaknesses and how to overcome poverty.

She said adamantly, "Your education is your salvation. Without a proper education, you would be like a dog in the streets. There would be no hope for your future. Take advantage of improving yourself. Reach for the skies. That is your limit. We have suffered without a formal education. Learn from our mistakes."

Thankfully, all her children listened to her advice, and they marched out of the cane fields.

Every one of my brothers and sisters received a formal education. There was no turning back to the sugarcane fields.

In 1962, Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from their colonial masters. The country was free to travel its own destiny. Like most departing colonial powers, the British left the country on the brink of bankruptcy. My fellow countrymen were determined to make their newly acquired independence an example to the world. In Caroni village, the people were rejoicing in the streets. Their cruel supervisor, Satan, was going back to England.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Journey of an Immigrant by Saisnath Baijoo. Copyright © 2014 Saisnath Baijoo. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Chapter One: Our Journey Begins: Reflections of My Beloved Trinidad, 1,
Chapter Two: Broken Promises, Concept of the Living Dead, 17,
Chapter Three: Good News: It Is Back to Miami, 43,
Chapter Four: My Pharmacy Training Begins, 57,
Chapter Five: Disaster Strikes Hard, 70,
Chapter Six: Education Is the Key to Your Salvation and Liberation, 84,
Chapter Seven: A New Adventure, 93,
Chapter Eight: Failure Strikes Hard from Within and Without, 111,
Chapter Nine: The Strategy for Success: Home Run, 121,
Chapter Ten: Deception and Divorce, 130,
Chapter Eleven: Strategy to Avoid Financial Disaster, 147,
Chapter Twelve: Journey to Roots, 162,
Chapter Thirteen: Adaptation to Changes, 187,
Chapter Fourteen: Love Blooms, 203,
Chapter Fifteen: Capturing the American Dream, 230,
Glossary, 247,

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