When I assigned “My Favorite Year” as a prompt for the writers in the memoir class I lead in downtown Chicago, Anu knew immediately which year she’d be writing about: 1969. That’s when she immigrated to America. Her husband Pawan sat in with our class for a few sessions last year, and it was easy to understand how they “kept postal service on their toes” when they lived apart — they are a charming couple. We were disappointed when Pawan didn’t join up again this year until Anu told us why that is: he’s volunteered to lead Wednesday morning English language classes for Chicago immigrants. Now here’s Anu with the back story:
by Anu Agrawal
I have had many wonderful and memorable years in my life, but I would pick 1969 as my favorite year. I got married on May 9th,1968 and three months after that my husband came to America to do his M.S. in mechanical engineering. I stayed back in India to finish my last year of college.
Both of us were quite busy in our studies. Even then it was quite hard to live so far apart from each other. In those days there were no computers, no Skype, no Facetime, no emails, or chatting. Even making a phone call was almost impossible. The only way to communicate was writing letters to each other. So we wrote letters every day and kept postal service on their toes.
After nine months of separation, I came to Chicago in June 1969 to join my husband. I was charmed by the beauty of the city of Chicago, especially the lake front. My husband took me to Field Museum, Art Institute, Science and Industrial museum, Planetarium and Aquarium. I was exploring the whole new world.
The most amazing place was Marshall Field and Co. department store, A store so huge, so beautiful. It was a museum in itself. I was totally mesmerized by the chandeliers and the art work on the walls and ceiling. Even today that place amazes me. In India I had seen palaces and forts with this kind of artistic beauty, but not a shopping place.
1969 was the year the whole world was glued to television to see the moon landing. I could not believe my eyes to see the humans walking on the moon. It was not a science fiction movie. It was real. Even today I get the same feelings what I felt at that moment when I think of that experience.
Most importantly,1969 was the year when I started to mature into womanhood. I was out in the world to live my life without the shelter of my parents. I had to grow up. My dreams, my life, my hopes started to take a shape in 1969.