Sunday vigil in Olathe, Kansas
Sunday vigil in Olathe, Kansas
Sruthi Gottipati

-Analysis-

It's every Indian mother's worst nightmare. Would the son she proudly sent abroad wind up in harm's way in a foreign land? Parvatha Vardhini's son reassured her that he was safe and secure in the U.S., even as hate crimes rose in the wake of Donald Trump's victory. After his body was flown back to the family in Hyderabad, and laid out in front of her for the last funeral rites today, Vardhini cautioned Indians in the U.S. to stick together.

"No other mother should meet with the tragedy I had met with," she said.

Vardhini's son Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old engineer, was shot dead in a Kansas bar last week. He had been drinking a beer with an Indian-American friend when a man walked up to them and asked what country they were from and whether they were in the U.S. illegally. The man was told to leave but later returned — with a gun. He shot Kuchibhotla dead. His friend was wounded.

The American Dream has long captured the imagination of Indian families. Middle-class parents don't go on impulsive shopping sprees or vacations abroad. They scrimp and save to send their kids to study in the U.S. When their children do finally depart, they pack homemade pickles in their suitcases and the whole family gathers at the airport to send them off.

Kuchibhotla appears to have been cut straight from that storyline. For a decade, he did all the right things to realize his family's dream. While he got his degree in electrical and electronic engineering, he worked as a teaching and research assistant to help pay for expenses. He was snapped up in the job market after graduation.

"He was very sharp. A top-of-his-class kind of guy," a former boss told The Kansas City Star. "He was the kind of employee every manager would want … He was a low-maintenance employee and did whatever was asked of him."

Kuchibhotla got married and recently bought a car for his dad with his salary. His family shone with pride. What Kuchibhotla didn't factor in was the ascendancy of Donald Trump, who painted an apocalyptic picture of the U.S. under attack by immigrants, who threatened the jobs and lives of ordinary Americans. As Trump's rhetoric energized the deepest, darkest prejudices in the U.S., Kuchibhotla's wife stayed awake at night worrying about their safety. He assured her they would be OK.

In the days after Kuchibhotla was killed, Trump, who typically dumps every passing thought on Twitter, was silent about the engineer's death.

At today's funeral in India, where the murder had been closely covered by local media, Vardhini was also thinking about her other son who'd also gone to live and and work in the U.S. "I will not allow my younger son to go back to the U.S. again. I want him and his family to return to Hyderabad for good."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Colombian Gen Z Wins Battle For The Right To Have Blue Hair At Graduation

A determined student's victory for freedom of hair in conservative Colombia.

Expressing herself

Alidad Vassigh

BUCARAMANGA — It may not be remembered alongside same-sex marriage or racial justice, but count it as another small (and shiny) victory in the battle for civil rights: an 18-year-old Colombian student whose hair is dyed a neon shade of blue has secured the right to participate in her high school graduation, despite the school's attempt to ban her from the ceremony because of the color of her hair.

Leidy Cacua, an aspiring model in the northeastern town of Bucaramanga, launched a public battle for her right to graduate with her classmates after the school said her hair violated its social and communal norms, the Bogota-based daily El Espectador reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ