To Become a Texan
The Texas Story Project.
When you’re a Texan, you’re known for having everything bigger. If you’re a Texan, it means you have that famed southern hospitality. It means you have that passion for football, under those Friday night lights, rain or shine. It means that right after that game, you head over to Whataburger to chow down on some burgers. Being a Texan means you’re going to rodeos and country line dancing. It means you’re going to tell people that aren’t from Texas that we do indeed ride horses and wear cowboy hats. If you’re a Texan, it means that you have two seasons rather than four. Being a Texan means barbeque on the lake with some Big Red. If you’re a Texan, it means you’re going to go on long road trips with bluebonnets, big fields and blue skies. Being a Texan means that you experience a lifestyle with all cultures.
“A Texan is anyone who lives in Texas, whether you’re from another state, an immigrant or born here.” My fourth-grade teacher used to say this. Being an immigrant who has only lived in America for a couple months, after hearing those words, I would feel an unusual joy. And I would always run home after school to tell my father that he was now a Texan.
My fathers’ journey to becoming a Texan was a long and painful one. My father was born in India to a “poor farmer and his wife who had nothing to their names but a small piece of land with a cow for milk and a small hut.” My grandparents were not very strict, but they forced my father to work on the farm and help bring in the yields and take care of the farm to simply feed the family and survive. He would have to wake up at four every morning to “take the cows out to graze in their family farmland that was miles away.” Then he would come home to eat some “stale breakfast” before school, one that was frowned upon by his parents as “a waste of time” or “time away from the farm”. He would have to come home right after to resume his work alongside his father on the farm. He grew up this way until he convinced his parents to send him to college.
Working hard in school, he secured a job as an assistant to the professor of Mathematics and then became a professor himself soon after. But as a professor in a small college in India, he barely made enough to feed my mother, me, my newborn baby brother. Looking for something more, he secured a 6-month visa to Texas based on his knowledge of math. Even though this meant he had to leave us behind, he used all his savings on a one-way ticket, betting on himself that what he was about to do will bring fortune for the family. During the next six months, he had to obtain a job, or he would be deported. As he explained it, “It was the hardest six months of [his] life. Without proper English, everything was that much harder”, he says. But with the help of a friend, he found work at a Walmart during the night while using that money to pay for the 6-roommate apartment and the community college he was studying at during the day. Through an entire semester of hard work, which he used every second of the spare time he had to study, he was able to secure a job as an assistant programmer at a small company. As he was nearing his visa term and in danger of deportation, the company extended a hand and offered to sponsor him as an international employer. Within a month of that, he was promoted to programmer.
Through another two years of hard work, he became better and better at his work. His “tasks increased and with it came the promotions” and the increase in pay. Soon he had enough to send for us and buy us a home. He continued to work hard and jumped from company to company in Texas before he secured a position as manager of technological operations at Terex. Through my father’s ambition and success in seeking a better life for his family he has earned his right to call himself a Texan. I’m grateful to have moved from India to Texas. Being a Texan means for those of us blessed to live here that there is no better place to call home.
Saisaurav Konakanchi is the son of Rambabu and Sridevi. He is currently a sophomore at St. Mary’s University, studying Computer Science and Math. He is part of the Investment Club, Gamma Iota Sigma, and competes for the St. Mary’s men tennis team. He was born in India with his brother Rahul and was raised in Dallas, Texas and enjoys watching TV, following football and eating Chipotle.
Posted October 11, 2018