This is the story of my first day.*

Kerala, India

Chicago, Illinois



My father, at the young age of 22 flew with his two younger sisters from Kerala all the way to Chicago looking for a new life to settle there. The first smell he smelled wasn't so pleasant: it smelled like sewage and dirty air as he was in the midst of the city. His older brother had already settled in Chicago in an apartment and he was forced to stay with him being so young with no job or money. His older brother fit him, their two sisters, my grandma, and my dad's brother's two kids at the time in one tiny apartment that was only meant for four. They all lived off of one paycheck, my uncle's, and each of them lived in this small apartment in the city for years. My dad started college at Triton College trying to obtain a degree in mechanics. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to finish it due to the difficulty of the courses. He remembered experiencing a lot of doubt in himself as he wanted to help his brother pay rent but it was very difficult. He got his first job at an airport selling food getting minimum wage for the first time, and he was able to help his brother pay for some rent for the apartment. However, he said it was very difficult as the only language he really spoke was Malayalam. He had to slowly learn English over the years and eventually was able to converse with most people a few years later. However; he said people would get frustrated speaking to him because he didn't know much English. Overall, my dad came here for job stability, to make a family, and to have more opportunities than he had in India. His other older brother who had stayed in India did not go through the difficulty of finding a new life here in America; however, my dad was blessed with many more opportunities here in America. The most positive experience he can say is after coming here with nothing and living in India with little food, few opportunities, and little leisure time, he is so proud to have made a family, bought 4 new cars, and bought a great house to live in. My dad has really worked his way up from almost nothing and I am so proud that he was able to do that. He has made a lot of sacrifices for me and I am so blessed to live a wonderful life because of him.

* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.