Desi is how South Asian Americans identify and refer to one another. This applies to a group of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. You get the idea. We are "desis."
Now to address the real elephant in the room – the lack of seriousness given to mental health issues in desi culture. The stigma in South Asian families is we care about whether young adults are following the path the older, and by default "wiser," people have set out for them without allowing for push-back... and as a result of this, elders often are not able to see into the feelings and choices younger people want for themselves.
Someone very close to me, at the time that I was 7 and he was 17, was a victim of this forcefulness, to follow a path he did not want both personally and professionally. I remember when I first met him, when I stepped into New York City at 7 years old. He joyfully came to me handing over a large stuffed animal – a large rabbit with a red bow-tie, and spent the day showing me the first glances of the coolest city in the States. He was always a kind older kid I could go to whenever I needed someone to talk to. He had been down this road I was walking, and looked like he knew exactly how to find his way through it.
He had a girlfriend that a friend of a friend once recommended, one that would regularly bring him down. I don’t know the details of what happened, only what was said in passing when I was mentally aware enough to ask about what ever happened to him. It was a combination of financial and personal jabs towards him, that she supposedly threw on a daily basis. I always wonder what was the deciding factor, what was the 13th reason per say (relating this to the new show on Netflix that addresses mental health)? Was it the pressure of hiding how unhealthy his relationship really was from his family... in fear that he wouldn't be able to uphold the loyalty and dignity of a long-term relationship like how his parents had done? Or having been forced to follow an even unhealthier path into a career that would lead him to ultimate suffocation as he saw it?
If I was a bit older I keep thinking, would he have felt comfortable to call me? Could I have saved him from taking that last step off the edge? The work, the stress, the agony, which we are taught to swallow and cope with without seeking outside advice, can be a threat to our future. This robotic forcefulness … at what cost? When do you stop standing down and say enough is enough? There has to be a point. Where do we draw the line between healthy pressure and overkill? I wish I had more to say about a happier ending. The aches of leaving a surrounding full of familiar faces and coming to a whole new country where loneliness creeps up at you must have been confusing to him than what I saw. You hesitate to reach for a phone and call for help, or admit that you have a flaw, when everyone around you expects you to take it all in.
This is the underlying issue that has always been lingering in the culture… it is so hard to admit that there are cracks and breaks in your identification as a Desi. It doesn't mean you’re giving up the valor that comes with the culture and identification, just to say you're handling it all without showing even a little weakness.. There’s no shame in coming clean with the damage. There’s no point to immigrate for a freedom that you will never see if you are barricaded within your own mind. And I wish there was someone there that told you this. That told you not to give up.
I wish you could have had the now me to talk to, back then.
Where like minds disagree and punctuation is overlooked