AN interesting account of an immigrant’s life in America, the book looks at the country through the experiences of three young men – Jimbo who is a bonafide American, AC who was called over by his sister Mini Auntie, and the writer – the first person – who has only recently landed in search of a better life for himself and his mother back home in Pakistan.
The threesome had tried hard to assimilate with the American way of life, even while retaining their native identities, likes and dislikes. “We were self-invented and self-made and certain we had our fingers on the pulse of the great global dialectic. We surveyed the Times and the Post and other treatises of mainstream discourse on a daily basis … we listened to Nusrat and the new generation of native rockers, as well as old-school gangasta rap, …” Adding, I’d arrived in New York from Karachi four years earlier to attend college … liked to believe that I’d since claimed the city and the city had claimed me.”
There is a general kinship among immigrants, who tend to get closer to each other and help each other in a new country. If you did not see your friend for some days, there is a sense of concern, “ we should find him immediately – tonight! We need to go to his house, break in, whatever it takes. We’re his friends. We owe it to him … we owe it to ourselves …”
The first person – I – or Chuck, as he is called, started his life in the Big Apple as a banker, but was to lose it soon as a result of recession. To tackle the blues, he becomes a taxi driver – a bonafide New York City cabbie.
And, then comes 9/11, and all immigrants especially Muslims come under the scanner.
In a strange country perfect strangers become friends, supporting and helping each other. “That’s how things worked in the city. You met somebody, then somebody introduced you to somebody else, and then they would become part of your story.”
To a sensitive soul, it felt uneasy. “Suddenly I had the urge to escape, make a clean break, skip down.” Nostalgia and home sickness sets in. “I heard myself say, ‘I want to come home, Ma!”
Even Amo’s love and marriage proposal cannot stop him.
‘Your mind drifts back to the memory of your mother’s last embrace, your clan waving from behind tinted glass door’.
(HarperCollins, 77-85, Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB; [email protected])