Sometime ago my son Sharath said that he was applying for a Permanent Resident status also called, ‘Green Card’, for me so that my stay in USA won’t be restricted to six months, as permissible in the normal course. Only condition is, I should stay here for a minimum period of 181 days every time I visit this country.
The documents needed for applying for the Green Card included my birth certificate and marriage certificate. I had neither.
It was a fact that I was born but why should the Federal Government believe that it happened, when my own office doesn’t release my pension, unless someone certifies once a year, that I’m alive ? Governments work on papers.
For every problem there is a solution. The rule says: If no birth certificate, procure a certificate from the Municipal Office of birthplace that they had searched and found that the birth was not registered in their records. For that, a relative born prior to me, had to certify that I was born in a particular place in my case, Kalpathy. In my known circle of relatives or close friends, none senior to me could be located and those available were All born after I was born!
‘Appu anna, Ponnai akkal’, jumped from his seat my cousin Prasad as if he was sanctioned an increment in pay, ten years after retirement! Ponnai akkal, by her own good acts and also by the praiseworthy acts of her father and husband who were teachers at Alathur and Koduvayoor High Schools respectively, touch wood, is doing well at 85. Thanks to her grand daughter who is my FB friend, I could talk to her last month.
Once that letter was obtained, it was child’s play for Siddappa, my friend for whom the Municipal office was ‘ammayeeda adukkala- mother in law’s kitchen’
‘Appu, poi oru idiaapavum chaayayayum kazitcho – you can relax and have some tea and snacks’, he said.
I got the green card within one year.
During the first three years, I could not strictly follow the rule with regard to the minimum stay in USA. Once, I stayed for less than six months in USA and once I returned after seven months’ stay in India. The immigration officer on my entry, made a note of it in my passport. Third year onwards, however, my stay was continuous.
When the minimum five years period with green card was over,
Whether to apply for citizenship or not, was a big question, as I mentioned earlier.
‘Ninnilthannae pirakkaavu jnAn oru
Pullaienkilum en MalanAdae!’
My dear land of hills, I should be reborn only in your lap, at least as a grass blade!
Those lines are from my poem in the college magazine. So deep was my love for my country from my early days, How will I forsake my janbhoomi and karmabhoomi and opt to a country in the fag end of my life? But, my children and grand children live here! That settled the issue. ‘No more discussion on this issue dad’, said my children.
I learned the one hundred questions and answers related to the country’s history as prescribed and available in the web, as required for the ‘Naturalization’ or citizenship.