A new place called home

Pragya Jha and her son, Shantanu, enjoy the holiday decorations at Crocker Park shortly after moving to Westlake from Mumbai, India.

We human beings have always heard from our parents and grandparents that a home is a place that's familiar. Home is filled with our old memories and things. We also believe that house of brick and stone will be called home by us only when it has warmth and cozy feelings of familiarity.

I also used to believe that until now. Two months ago, when I was living in India, I felt home was my flat in Mumbai. Then we planned to move to the United States. I was very skeptical about the change. I am not a person who likes changes a lot so such a big change like this started bothering me every day.

I used to lie awake every night worrying about how I would ever manage everything. But when I looked at my son, who has special needs, my fears subsided momentarily as I had heard that Ohio is great for special needs kids. Still, the feeling of nervousness was there always.

Finally on Nov. 24 we arrived in Cleveland. I loved the city the moment we came out of the airport. But still the place was new and the fears of shifting to a new society, and also with a special needs child, were there. Would this place offer the warmth of our home in Mumbai?

My first surprising change was that when we were in public places and my son would yell out loudly, which he often does to communicate his needs as he does not speak, no one turned their heads to see him or us. Everyone went on being so normal around him and us which was never the case back in India.

When we rented our house in Westlake, we stated initially that our son has a habit of making noise and yelling sometimes. But the answer that came from the agent was a welcome surprise. He said, "Aren't we all loud sometimes?" Our neighbor welcomed us and asked us to call on her anytime as she is working as a nurse for special needs kids. Back in India we never knew the names of our neighbors and my son was never welcome with them.

After that everyone and everything was a fresh welcome. The school was another surprise. All the teachers and the principal at Dover Intermediate School were so friendly. For the first time in my life I was comfortable leaving my son with someone else. The other day, my son was not feeling well and I had thought of not sending him to school. But he got up on his own and was excited to go. I had never seen him so happy about anything.

Today I am so comfortable here in my new house, even though I am doing all the extra chores of cooking, cleaning and snow shoveling that I had never done back in India.

When I look back and think, all my nervousness and confusions of the past are gone.

Those who have made this change possible for us are the people of this city. I salute them for making this unfamiliar place so welcoming for us.

They have made this new house of ours a HOME.

Pragya Jha

I am 40 year old and a mother of 11year old special kid . Have done matters In computer science and used To work As a software consultant back in India. We have moved To Cleveland 2 months back from from India. I loved Cleveland the moment moment I landed here . Always wanted To live In such a city . Love WestLake area .

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:55 AM, 02.02.2016