Autobiography of an Unknown Punjabi ~Aneet Randhawa

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I spent my childhood in an agricultural household fed on the tales of good times of yore. My parents had witnessed the tide of green revolution that transformed their low yielding fields into lucrative propositions. But by the time I gained my conscience I became fully aware of their saturated returns. The holdings were not those unending swathes of land that my father had once boasted but were fragmented to the core. Every year my family would eagerly await the announcement of support prices of crops by the government. Every successive year the figure seemed more farcical then the previous one. Although my infancy would shelter me from these harsh realities of the times to come, I understood fully well that I would not be immune to it for long.

The earliest memories of mine related to education are sitting in a two room shanty in the name of school. It is difficult to recall that who made their presence more felt, the truant students or the one for all subjects teacher. Most of my fellow mates understood it to be a directionless sham. Yet a miniscule lot, for whom I have the highest respect, was gritty, who decided to go against the odds.

By my adolescence I believe I had a better sense of things around. My insecurities and fragilities had grown by leaps and bounds. That my hereditary vocation of agriculture would not sustain me, was a foregone conclusion. The politician, as I understood then, was an entity that was supposed to ensure its presence at weddings and bhogs and not somebody who was to make concerted efforts for the well being of people at large. My insecurities made me vulnerable to the ubiquitous presence of synthetic drugs. Many of my fellow mates got hooked to them at a tender age but call it sheer providence that I escaped its onslaught.

Barely out of my teens with a dismal score in my higher secondary I followed the natural course and took admission in a private college in the nearby city. But this shop in the name of education was even a bigger sham than the village school. By this time there was another constant buzz falling into my years. Call it the peer affect, the mammoth advertising campaign of various immigration consultancies or lucrative tales of those who made it before me, I saw no escape from the lure of immigrating to foreign shores.

Knocking at the doors of various immigration consultancies was the next natural course. The crux of the things was that I had to fare well in the IELTS exam, which was all about English language. That seemed to be a horrendous task in itself given my rural education credentials and my inherent phobia about it. But if I had to immigrate the legitimate way then there was no other way out. By this stage my Punjabi grit had been fueled by the impending insecurities and I joined one of the IELTS preparation academies which one can even sight with closed eyes these days.

My grit paid dividends and I fared well in the IELTS exam. Simultaneously, my parents disposed of some chunk of our agricultural land to arrange for the fee and other sundry expenses. I cleared the visa interview at the concerned embassy. I was to fly in a couple of days.

I left my motherland with an intact umbilical cord. I kept no grudges with it for there were none. We were paying the price for the selfishness of an avaricious minority who had wrecked our state for their selfish reasons. I headed to the unknown shores with optimistic streaks so inherent to a Punjabi. As reported in a section of local media some time back, back home today, I am a statistical figure, the likes of the 1.5 lakh who followed this standard trajectory of Punjabi youth this year. I shiver at the thought of a staggering youth deficit that my state stares at in the times to come.