The book of Genesis tells us that Abraham who was born in Ur, a city in modern Eastern Iraq near Basra moved to Haran in Iraq north of Ur. Both Ur and Haran were on the trade route from Mediterranean lands to Persia and India. According to David Kossoff, writer, broadcaster and Bible story teller Abraham was engaged in a prosperous Import Export business in Haran which was a sophisticated city with many temples and many gods. One day Abraham told his family that God had asked him to leave Haran and proceed as God would direct him. His family was flabbergasted and Terah, his beloved father asked him which God. Abraham said it was the one God which created us and not the gods created by us.
According to David Kossoff 's story Abraham wound up his business, and acquired a huge herd of cattle and sheep, employed a large retinue of servants to look after and protect his herd and left with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot who chose to travel with him. Abraham travelled west. This was one of the earliest recorded events of faith-induced migration.
If we discard the David Kossoff story and look upon Abraham as a rich pastoral man, it was in a sense an economic migration as he was looking for fresh pastures and a land of milk and honey. But Abraham was a man with a mission, the patriarch of the Semitic tribes in the Middle East, a man of absolute faith in God to be called the father of all faithful peoples.
The modern day Abrahams, Isaacs, Jacobs and Josephs from Kerala or other parts of India have moved west to North America and Europe to better their lives, a perfectly desirable objective. My middle name is Abraham and as such a vague paternal affinity to the Patriarch Abraham. We are often asked and we ask among ourselves "Where is your home?" I may attempt to answer that question by narrating a real story. Some years ago a family of Kerala Christians settled in north of England where there are no Kerala folks, saved their annual holidays and went to India for a long holiday and stayed in their ancestral homes in Kerala The children enjoyed the change and the warm climate as well the attention and affection they received.One night when they were going to sleep in the grandparent's home, the young son asked the father "Daddy when are we going home?" The father said "This is your home". "No Daddy this is grandpa's house" "Then where is your home" and the young one said "Our home is in England where we have apple and pear trees in the garden" So the four year old felt at home in England among his English peer group with whom he played and went to Sunday School in the local Anglican parish and established companionship.
I know a large number of our older folks who are first generation migrants may have vivid memories of Chengannur or Chennai and do not feel quite at home in Cardiff or Chicago and aspire to adhere to the culture of our origin. But we tend to forget that our children, the second generation, feel at home in the places where they are born and bred. This creates a generation gap which is in addition to the cultural gap the elders have with the majority communities in their neigh- bourhood. I have seen Gujarati ladies who spoke no English when they left India, tried to learn English to converse with their children whose fluency is in English. Thus these ladies tried to fill the linguisitic gap between the generations and integrate with their children.
This is not a new phenomenon. In Acts Ch.2 we read of the Jewish Diaspora in Roman times flocking to Jerusalem for the Pentecost. Peter and his fellow disciples had received the Holy spirit. Peter lifted up his voice and possibly spoke in his native Aramaic. The assembled folks were "Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotomia, Capadocia, Pontus, Phyrgia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene and Romans" a vast region of the Roman Empire and beyond. The disciples who were inspired by the Holy Spirit could converse with the visitors in their own tongues. We may not have the blessing of "tongues" but it is within our power to adjust our attitudes with the people among whom we live and work.
In the Diaspora community it is easy to form our own groups and get into a ghetto mentality. That will indicate we shall be creating barriers against social and cultural exchange. It is incumbent on us to integrate with the majority community. All our diaspora folks are English speakers and it is not difficult to integrate linguistically in English speaking countries. It will be comfortable to feel at home where we have settled down. So social and cultural integration ought to be attempted. That does not mean we give up our own cultural traditions. In North America there are flourishing cultural groups like Polish Americans, Italian Americans who have integrated with the majority community while retaining their own cultural identity.
So let us join the progressive forces and not be found wanting. Indianness is right on our faces. We cannot discsard it and nobody is asking us to do it. So for our happiness and to benefit our successive generations let us feel at home where we have settled and when we are asked next time "Where is your home" let us without hesitation say that our home is in Cardiff, Chicago, Texas or Toronto, wherever the Almighty God was pleased to place us.
|Email this Link to a Friend||Send Your Feedback|
LIGHT OF LIFE
PUBLISHED ON FIRST DAY OF EVERY MONTH