Maahi is not his real name. Since I am not sure whether he desires this kind of publicity, I have to change his name to tell his story. He’s a graduate of Indian Institute Of Technology, and he loves cars. He came to America twenty-five years ago, attending graduate school in New Jersey and intending to become an engineer. However fifteen years ago he changed his mind and started his own auto shop, giving up the conventional route of working for a corporation. Now he is the proud owner of “Maahi Repair” and a very expensive sports car which I don’t know the name of. He told me the name twice, but I couldn’t grasp it and it is too embarrassing to ask him again.
His American dream is inseparable from this sports car and he has struggled for more than twenty years–he just has to have it. He bought the sports car a year before the pandemic. If he had known there was a pandemic looming in the distance, he would not have spent that kind of money on this luxury item.
His auto shop is very quiet today, a total different picture from the pre-pandemic bustle and hustle. When I told him about my oil change, he immediately took care of it. There’s no wait.
“It is really tough.” He said, shaking his head. People have not been driving as much, not much need for repair. His business plummets, but the bills keep coming. His son just completed MCAT and ready for medical school, but he refused to come home to attend Rutgers University, which would save Maahi a lot of money.
“He’s eager to be independent, away from his parents.” I said and wanted to continue to say that he will come back to his parents when he becomes really mature. However Maahi cut me short,
“Independent? I’m the one who has to pay.” He said.
Just at that moment, two cars stopped by and Maahi turned around to take care of his customers.
Maahi is just one of so many immigrants who save every penny. I mean we really save every penny. Lunch is always the leftover of previous dinner; our heating is at 60F in winter and air-conditioning 80F in summer; clothes are from the sales racks of discount stores; free museum and free park is often the destination for entertainment. However the offspring of the immigrants are Americanized and treat their parents’ sacrifice as unnecessary austerity and old fashioned self denial.
When I drive away, Maahi waves at me. He is such a good man, responsible father, so intelligent, and so handsome too. He will survive the pandemic and his son’s disregard for expenses. I am sure he will.