A couple of days ago, I bought my right to vote for 800 dollars. It was the penultimate step after 7 years of living in the United States, and this story could hardly be repeated anywhere else.
I arrived in the U.S. on a student visa. I was not allowed to work anywhere outside of the university, which posed a major problem for paying tuition. So in the summer of my freshman year, I traveled down to a sleepy little tourist town on the tip of Long Island and got a job working for Dunkin Donuts. The shop was one of a few owned by a distant relative who migrated penniless from Bangladesh decades ago and now was the epitome of the American dream; a house, a pool, a Jaguar and two unbearably bratty children. I was paid cash and slept on a ratty couch with a few other ‘illegals’. To conserve money, I would eat local – 3 meals a day of as many variations of bagels and cream cheese I could invent, furtively devoured in the back room. Kindly old ladies would leave Christian pamphlets in the bathroom, suggesting we should let Jesus take the wheel (of our lives, I was guessing).
Through a bizarre coincidence (perhaps it was Jesus), at the end of my summer, I got a call from Bangladesh. My immigration application, filed 20 something years ago by my aunt, had been approved and I needed to go back home for an interview. I was faced with a rather stark choice – stay in school as a foreign exchange student, or drop out, go back home and gamble on the biggest prize of all – citizenship in the United States of America.
Next Week- The thrilling anti-climax!