Dreams come true when you believe in them. This statement surely is inspiring but has not proved to be right for everyone. There are people who went through struggles and did what not, but still ended up unsuccessful. And so it is the story of each and every illegal migrant who dreamt to settle abroad, become successful and live a life king size.
Team Kiddaan met Gurpreet Singh and Gurpyar Singh who happened to be two of such migrants and while the conversation and the interview was on, they opened their hearts and shared the entire story with every detail and fact. They revealed their journey wasn’t only physically exhausting but mentally tiring and depressing as well. “I thought ending my life would be easier than completing this journey”, said Gurpreet, and it’s not all, there is a lot more you need to know about them
If you’ve ever wondered about entering America illegally, this interview might spill a lot of beans for you.
9 Curious Questions We Asked Them About Illegal Migration
1. How did it actually start? When was the time you guys realized that you’ve been fooled and landed in trouble?
Gurpreet: We were a group of 5 people from Delhi who left for America, but later as more people joined the numbers kept increasing. My agent had told me that we’ll have to walk 10-15 kms on foot but this turned out to be a journey for months. We kept walking day and night for months, and had no option to stop. If someone stopped and refused to go further, the donker would shoot him dead and keep the rest of the group going. We were in wild forests and when we reached Columbia, our passports were also seized by them and we had no options other than to continue walking.
Gurpyar: Since I’m a writer myself, I wanted an exposure for myself. I tried to get my visa approved so that I could travel legally but rejections and my relative pushed me to reach America via Mexico. I was a part of a different group than Gurpreet and we boarded a flight to Mexico. We were made to cross the border and the moment I realized that I’ve finally made it to America, it was the happiest day of my life. Though I thought everything was sorted now, I was wrong.”
2. When you were struggling, walking through forests, meanwhile you must have suffered shortage of resources too. How did you manage to survive with limited food and water especially?
Gurpreet: I won’t say there was shortage of food because the donkers gave us enough food to carry and continue the journey with. We had Maggi, rice, dalia, pulses and a lot more. But the issue was we had to carry it with us. At first we took as much stuff as we could, but when we struggled to walk with all that weight, we had to drop many items on the way to save our physical strength.
Gurpyar: We suffered shortage of food and to balance it we ensured that whatever we had, we divided it equally among all the people in the group. There were moments like when we only had one almond or two left, but we shared every single thing we had.
3. This entire struggle sounds really depressing and negative. It must have been difficult to keep going. Did you ever have negative thoughts on the way like, Maybe this is the end? And you won’t make it to America?
Gurpreet: Of course it was too negative, in fact I’d say it was depressing. We witnessed dead bodies of many who probably were also migrants like us and couldn’t make it. We saw rotten corpses, human skeletons and not only this, we saw our friends dying in front of our eyes, and we couldn’t even help. I remember with us there was a guy from Haryana who died while saving the life of a man drowning in a river. He saved the life of the man, but slipped and died. It was devastating to see his dead body. Also, there was a small African family with us of a couple and their 7-8 YO old child. While we were crossing the river, the waves were so sharp that the African man who was also carrying his kid on his shoulders, drowned in the river right in front of our eyes. Upset with all this, I literally felt and prayed to god to either take my life or finish this never ending journey for me.
Gurpyar: The one thought that kept hitting my mind again and again was to end my life. I did not want to continue. The life I was living was nowhere near to what I had come there for. I saw my friends crying, I saw people losing hopes, dying and also ending their lives.
4. The tale you are narrating is heartbreaking. We must say you’re too strong, that’s why you could handle and fight all that. Would you like to highlight what kept you going?
Gurpreet: It’s not about what kept me going. Because the situation was so bad that I had no other option but to keep going. It was like till the moment we were breathing, we had to step ahead. There was no going back.
Gurpyar: What kept me going was the support of the people around me. Since we chose the route by air, we reached the camp earlier as compared to the group of Gurpreet. Also, we had nothing to do; we all were missing our families, eating the tasteless boiled food, and maybe waiting for a painful death. But we made sure that we take care of each one of us. Every time we realized that one of us was crying under his blanket, we joined them on their bed, talked to them, chatted for hours and motivated them.
5. How heart melting it is to know that the people who barely knew, ended up becoming your family there. They were the only ones who were around and there for you. What’d you like to share about that special bond?
Gurpreet: That bond had become so important for each one of us that we could not even move one step ahead without them. We took care of each other, stopped when someone was in need, and became the support of each other. I’m still in contact with some of the boys from the group who made it to America.
Gurpyar: Yes I cannot forget how meaningful and important those people were. I remember there were people among us who had contacts or maybe some relatives living in America, so they’d easily get stuff like Maggi and some money as well. Every time any one of us got Maggi, we cooked and shared it.
6. So when you finally reached America, was it satisfying and did you finally feel safe?
Gurpreet: It took me almost three months to reach America after walking, changing taxis, sleepless nights, mosquito bites, and a lot more. When I finally reached America it surely was one of the happiest days of my life. I could not believe that I’ve made it to be here finally. But the happiness didn’t last long. Because the camp we were made to stay in was no way less torture that what we had gone through to reach there. We had no clothes, locked in air conditioned rooms alone, given tasteless food, and no one to talk to. One can never even imagine the level of psychological trauma I was in.
Gurpyar: As I earlier said I was the happiest when I finally realized that I’ve reached America. But it did take a few days for me to realize that it won’t be easy to stay here. My agent had told me that I will be kept in the camp for 20-25 days approx, but it turned into chaos when months passed and I was still stuck there with no help.
7. Even after your struggle for months, you were deported by America. You landed back in India and finally met your family. Was that a wholesome experience?
Gurpreet: (sigh & sounds low) No, for me it was not. I remember the day when I landed at Delhi Airport; I didn’t even want to go back home. I was heartbroken and I wanted to end my life. (Gets emotional) I knew my family took out a loan to make me reach America, and now when I was back, it felt like I wasted that money. We had paid almost 25 Lakh INR to the agent who sent me to America, and I thought if I end my life, the agent will have to return some amount of the money to my family and that might help. But somehow I gathered the confidence to call my father from Jalandhar and tell him that I am back. And my father motivated me to come back home and made me feel at ease about all the money.
Gurpyar: For me it was like a second chance god has given me to start my life another way. Earlier when I reached home, I was depressed. I hardly talked to anyone, but later, I realized that doing something is better than doing nothing. I couldn’t settle in America, but it doesn’t mean I won’t work here. I moved out of my shell and started working and earning to support my family.
8. No matter what all happened, in the end all that matters is you landed safe in India, met your family and finally gave yourself a second chance to stand up once again. What’re your thoughts about it?
Gurpreet: (takes a long pause before answering) Yes, I’m glad I am back home with my family, but it was easy to start with a new beginning. When I landed in India, came back home, my family surely stood by my side and supported me, but I cannot forget how some people made fun of what I had gone through. (saddened) They taunted me and threw comments like ‘Aa gaya, aa gaya vekho America wala’ which are heartbreaking. I cannot forget the past even if I try to, all because of these people. And when I try to advise people about why they should not try going to America the way I did, all I get in response is, ‘Tusi ta swad lai ke vekh leya hai, hun asi vi na jaiye? Sanu kyun rok’de ho?’ (You have tasted the experience of going to America, why are you stopping us now?)
Gurpyar: No it wasn’t easy to restart your life another way. First, I’d like to mention, my family sold a part of our land to send me to America. I spent more than 45 Lakh INR but ended up being deported back to India. I feel bad about how certain people who used to express fake love and care towards me when I was in America, now don’t even show up. Maybe they thought they’d benefitted too if I settled there. When I came back, my own uncle refused to identify me, and stated that he doesn’t even know who I am.
9. Upcoming Punjabi film based on the lives and struggles of illegal migrants; ‘Aaja Mexico Challiye’ which is soon to hit the theaters. We are sure you’ve heard about it and must have watched the trailer too. Do you think this movie will bring a change in the system in any way?
Gurpreet: Yes I checked the details of the movie and I was overwhelmed to know that a film is being made on this issue. I strongly believe that no one should go through struggles the way we did. No one should ever try to migrate to America the way we did.
Gurpyar: When I first heard the movie’s name, I immediately felt connected to it. It felt like this movie was based on my story. The word ‘Mexico’ was enough to catch all my attention. I’m sure this movie will present all the problems which we faced on our way to America.
We can bet this heart wrenching conversation has turned out to be heart wrenching for you as well. We started this wholesome conversation with excitement to know the tale and ended it with wet eyes and a heavy heart. There is a lot more Gurpreet and Gurpyar told us, and each and every statement they released out of their mouth was equally shocking and heart breaking. While Gurpreet got emotional talking about how he felt like ending his life, Gurpyar expressed his disappointment over how his own friends and relatives left his side. Gupryar also revealed that he especially wrote a song about all that he went through and he also believes the song has now turned into an inspiration for others like him.
Mentioning more about illegal migrants, everyone knows and has their eyes set on the upcoming movie ‘Aaja Mexico Challiye’ which is soon to release. It stars actors like Ammy Virk, Honey Mattu, Nasir Chinyoti, Zafri Khan, Sukhwinder Chahal and many more. The story of this movie is based on the lives and struggles of all the illegal migrants and hence we have high expectations from it. We believe not only it will serve the purpose of entertainment, but also turn out to be a movie that will be one of its kind.