When I was a few weeks old, we moved
From Madras to Bombay, my roots yet to sprout
My parents speak of good neighbors, we were loved
We belonged, never once were we asked to get out.
When I was three, we moved back to Mylapore
A few different schools, roots never took hold
No childhood friends, but from temple to seashore
I belonged; to leave, never was I told.
At ten, we left our country, and to Jamaica we went
Island in another hemisphere, roots and stem together
I was asked about elephants and if I lived in a mud tent I belonged,
Different yes, but lived without any fear.
At fifteen I moved back to Madras, almost a Jamaican
A wierd accent, clipper-cut hairstyle, my roots strange
Couldn’t read or write Tamil, a foreign person.
I belonged, though my life was constantly in change.
At eighteen, I moved to Bangalore, college bound
A new state, another new branch, a new experience
Indians, North, South and East all on even ground,
I belonged, together, one amongst India’s variance.
At 23, I moved to Pennsylvania, back across the ocean
Leaving my roots behind in India, near Ulsoor lake,
Yet I got to write for the paper, my opinion, my emotion
I belonged, an immigrant on a visa, my life to make.
At 26, I moved to Gurgaon, a satellite town in Haryana
New job, new leaves turned, a US returned manager
But across the north, traveling gave my soul manna
I belonged, a nomad in life but to India, no stranger.
At 27, back across the world we went, now married
Chicago, the Windy City beckoned, roots and all
Slowly a life we built, a lease then our own house deed
I belonged, from being cricket crazed to loving baseball.
Now four decades of life have gone by
I think I have steadied my roots, settled into a groove
Though ever so often, I itch to move, that’s no lie
I belonged, that feeling, made it easy to move.
To feel like you don’t belong, I can’t imagine
To not be able to call a place home, there is no greater wrong
This year let us reach out, join the picket line
And ensure that everyone, does belong.