Coming to America, (cont’d)

A follow-up to this post

Sometimes one’s pen and paper captures their voice well. All too often what drove the clarity in the writing is a powerful topic. Below is a letter from my dad along with my 1st passport that he dug up and sent to me. The passport was originally needed so I could be chaperoned by an Air India hostess from Cochin, Kerala, India to JFK, NYC in May of 1966. It was shortly before my 4th birthday and it was the 1st time we were meeting, as my dad had left India when my mom was 7 months pregnant to land an elusive surgical residency in the US. My mom joined a couple of years later and I was expertly taken care of by grandparents who had raised a whopping 21 children between them. My dad’s letter goes as follows:

Murphsyboro, Oct/31/2009

Dear Santhosh,

Enclosed is your first passport. I remember coming to JFK Airport to take you to Cleveland. I was waiting on a balcony of JFK airport. I saw you coming down the staircase from Air India holding the hand of the air hostess who was assigned to you. You were walking into the airport on the ground. Dr. Sebastian and Shanti were with me at the that time.

When you came out of the customs you were weeping saying “that man took away my peraka” (Goa fruit). Ammachi gave a few Goa fruits to you in a bag to eat on the way. They were grown on the Thodupuzha property. No fruits could be taken into the U.S.A. by law.

I gave you a small electric car and you were very happy. We flew to Cleveland.


A mountainous moment in my life, to say the least. But arguably a bigger day for the more aware and nuanced parent of the toddler. God bless moms and dads, and the many sacrifices they make for their families’ futures, eh?

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My 1st Passport… and Visa…

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