The Migrant

It is said that each of us lives on a so-called island, that the grass looks greener on the other side and a man's home is his castle.

The quest for improvement - personal, family and community - never ceases to flow strongly in the human bloodstream.  With better technology and movement across borders, human migration patterns have become more intense, frequent and much easier.  Human community conflict - whether they be outright wars, incessant discrimination or religious beliefs clashing against each other - are the source of dissatisfaction, physical and/or mental suffering and the stirring of anguish. No one wants to leave his or place of origin, where childhood memories develop and where the senses of a rooted anchor begin. There may come a time when the three questions are confronted, even if one does not want to uprooot one's self - should we fight the injustice, or should we tolerate it, or should we flee?

Recently, Tamils from Sri Lanka were seen  in detention in Lenggeng outside the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Ghanaians were taking bus to Libya overnight. the more things seem to change, the more they actually they can remain.  In my youth, I read the experience of refugees from a  Vietnam divided into two, where brothers and  sisters fought each other in the name of different political and socio-philosopical regimes.  How different these are from the experiences of a Londoner coming to Sydney to work and talk of aspirations in an affluent, protected channel of existence?  How different are these from the experiences of a China national settling into a Western nation, where capitalism, morality levels and sensations of individual freedom are of another dimension?

When one arrives in a new land, are expectations met and fulfilled? Reality usually has another shade from the hype, imagination and hear say. Challenges are the flipside of opportunity. Comparisons run automatically in the subconscious of the new arrival. Reaching out and pondering within happen concurrently. What have I given up to come here, and what have I gained for overcoming settling in hurdles? There is no white and black, only a stream of maybes, compromises and occasional delights. What is certainly liked int he new environment helps to relive the pain of giving up the familiar and in adjusting to adopting the new.  One has to build new attitudes, habits and parameters.  One has to also let go of what was once dear or still is close to the heart at times.  It helps with networking and diving into positive diversions but the grass is just different, not necessarily greener.

And then one builds the castle again. Dreams and hopes are articulated and realised. Love and friendship ease the path. Sometimes, new mates are never the same as those from younger days and who still keep in touch, and sometimes they are better.  We may hop from isle to isle, but at times we have formed a chain of pearls along the way.  A sense of adventure helps, even if there has been sacrifice and loss  along the way.  The future is never certain and always changing - the children of first generation immigrants may migrate themselves.  The new island of hope many years ago may have changed as well. Improvement may not only be seen through materialistic ways, but also in the enrichment of heritage, the inner soul and in personal happiness.

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