Read Sunayana Damala's Powerful Facebook Post

by Alex Gladu
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Last week, Sunayana Dumala suffered the tragic loss of her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, when he was shot dead at a bar near Kansas City. Yet, up until that devastating episode, Dumala and her husband led a life that many Americans would relate to, balancing work with friends and trying to start a family. On Tuesday, Dumala shared a Facebook post about her husband that told both sides of her story. Together, the emotional and relatable aspects of her message paint a sobering picture of what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. And one question in particular should make Americans think twice about what the country is becoming:

DO WE BELONG HERE? Is this the same country we dreamed of and is it still secure to raise our families and children here?

Kuchibhotla, who was an Indian immigrant to the United States and an engineer at Garmin, was allegedly shot for what could have been anti-immigrant sentiment. Regardless of motive, the tragedy has certainly made Dumala feel uncomfortable in the country that has been her home for several years.

In the Facebook post, Dumala revealed that Kuchibhotla "was always worried about immigration and its laws."

There were days when he used to talk about how it's been quite a few years since we applied for our permanent residency card, and he didn't know how much longer we have to wait for it. He used to say having one would give him the chance to explore even more his passion for the aviation industry.

Aside from the stress of permanent residency cards and, of course, the violence of anti-immigration sentiment, the life that Dumala described of her and her husband seems entirely relatable to born-and-raised Americans. The couple enjoyed small-town life in Iowa before moving to the Kansas City area for her career. They had just recently begun plans to grow their family, considering in-vitro fertilization.

We were planning to expand our own family and had had a doctor’s appointment just a few weeks ago. One of the last thoughts that he shared with me were “Nani (his nickname for me), we need to save money if we have to end up going for in-vitro to conceive.” I am writing this as it sinks in to me that this dream of ours is now shattered.
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Dumala and her husband moved to the U.S. to follow their dreams. They got an education, found good jobs, and built relationships in the U.S. — and they did so legally. There's no doubt they became a part of this country. But for all the hard work spent getting to that point in their lives, Dumala and Kuchibhotla nonetheless faced injustice, which culminated in Kuchibhotla's tragic death last week.

Despite the tragedy she has suffered, Dumala also channeled her husband's eternal optimism:

I was able to see random acts of kindness at the Kansas City airport when people recognized me and hugged me. I met a dermatologist who said I changed the purpose of her life. Maybe that was the first win during this fight to spread to love.

For Dumala, the grieving process has only just begun. Hopefully, she will begin to heal emotionally and gain the strength to find her way again in the United States. At the same time, her message highlights the fact that there are divisions within the United States that also need healing.