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Radhika MB’s book Visa Wives is a must read for all wives dreaming of a life in the US – telling it as it is, the pros and the cons, and all you need to know.
Everyone knows one — a “visa wife”. The term here refers to women who have moved to the US, usually on a H4 visa (aka a dependent visa) to join and support their husbands.
We envy them and what we imagine is their luxurious lifestyle. We judge them, for choosing to give up a career, for leaving behind aged in-laws and parents. But do we truly know them and the intricacies of their lives? I certainly didn’t, until I became one myself. Then, all my assumptions and judgements went flying out the window and all I wished for was an understanding ear. Which is why the book Visa Wives: Emigration Experiences of Indian Women in the US by Radhika MB is a wonderful resource for current and would-be visa wives, and their families back home.
The author is a “visa wife” herself, and the book certainly benefits from her personal experience. She understands that what women in the process of taking this crucial decision need is not more advice, but an honest glimpse into what their life will become if they choose to go. That is why her book is not a preachy advice column or to-do list. Instead it is a collection of narratives from the women—sometimes humourous, sometimes shocking, and always insightful.
There is a deep understanding that the experience of one “visa wife” could be very different from that of another, and this is reflected in the diversity of stories presented here. There are no “solutions” or “answers”, just the assertion that there is more than one way to deal with a situation. It is up to the reader to choose what approach will work for them.
The book explains the different kinds of visas before it moves on to the anecdotes. The chapters themselves are arranged in a sort of chronological order – from the decision making stage, to the anxiety inducing visa interview process, to the overwhelming challenge of packing away a life, and the hopeful flight to a new country, before it begins to explore the joys and challenges of living in the US. I appreciate the choice to structure the book like this, because it takes the reader on the mental journey a visa wife makes.
The book covers a range of issues that cover the depth and width of the immigrant experience from a H4 visa holder’s point of view, which is amazing considering the book is only 332 pages long. I especially appreciate that the author also chooses to talk in detail about one of the “open secrets” of many H4 women – domestic violence.
The target audience seems to be would-be visa wives. The author hopes that this book will help them make the decision whether to go or not. And in my opinion, it certainly will. I wish I had an opportunity to read this book four years ago, when my journey as a visa wife began — it would have made a huge difference.
This is also a must-read for the families and friends of visa wives. This book will surely shatter some assumptions that people have and hopefully create a sense of empathy.
It is also a wonderful read for current and former visa wives. The book beautifully details the joy of finding one’s own space, and the excitement of discovery and exploration. It is also a testimony to the pain, depression and uncertainty that many women must deal with before they can find their peace. I certainly chuckled along at passages that I could relate too, and cried profusely when some of the frustration conveyed by the women hit too close to home. But most importantly, it was a reminder that this is not just my story. I am not alone.
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Top image via Pixabay and book cover via Amazon
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
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