Writer, novelist Ben Tanzer reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked to send him something “that may have changed [your] life as an artist along the way, therefore changing mine.” Ben is doing a month-long writer-in-residence stint at Necessary Fiction this November, and I was honoured to be asked to contribute.
Whether for good, bad, ugly, beautiful, useful, or detrimental, immigration has severely affected my life–perhaps even saving it; I know, it seems extreme but who knows what would’ve happened had I been there during those turbulent last days of 1989 when the iron curtain fell in my country and thousands of students took to the streets, some of them shot by the army. It sounds dramatic, but who knows…with my luck.
My story Pawning Dowry is now published at Necessary Fiction, thanks to Ben and his generosity.
Although I’ve been a fairly loud critic of some, if not most, of the systems severely flawed in this country (education, social, medical, infrastructure, political), I cannot dismiss the tenacity of immigrants and the gargantuan atrocities they often face with strength and courage and determination. This country was built by immigrants who refused to go back to their countries despite some of the most adverse conditions presented in their lives.
Whether or not I agree, or even reconcile with my own immigration (I was a child when I came to this country in early 1980) doesn’t much matter. One can fling his or her opinion on this issue all one wants; it takes but a few difficult stories of immigrant sacrifice and adversity to properly shut one’s mouth and send him/her along the merry way. Follow the yellow-brick road, son, and kindly piss off with your opinions.
This story (Pawning Dowry), I’ve been told, demands to be expanded a bit more. I agree and fundamentally feel that maybe one day it should; the restrictive venues of online publishing are such that they demand brevity; sometimes tales leave more to be desired from the reader.
My original impetus was the idea of pawning dowry to live a simple existence in America. I truly love that concept, for all immigrants whether or not they like it or wish it, end up selling bits and pieces of their old lives to make a new one in this country.
Thanks Ben Tanzer for taking this.