I: Hello, and what is your name please?
M: My name is Mohinder Atwal. I came from India. The state is Punjab and I came to join my husband here. He was a testing engineer in GEC and he done BSc in India and HNC here and I came to join him because he work here; he got a house here.
I: And what did you think when you first came here?
M: I like here because my husband is here. First day we came from…when I came here from the airport, my husband’s cousin with him and they both came to fetch me and we stay night in Coventry. There’s my husband’s uncle live there. The second day we came to Rugby. We stay night here. The second day we went to Nottingham because my elder sister live there. And my elder sister married to my husband’s cousin brother. And we stay there for one week. Then we came here. And then feel lonely because I was a teacher in India. All day quiet and not many people live in Rugby because I came here in ’69. That time not many people live here. And when my husband came from work then we go to the park or town. On Saturday, when he came 12 o’clock then we go to the town and park and that’s it. Sometimes we go to London because the fare is only 99 pence for return to Euston. Usually, every week on Saturday in the morning we went to see all the London, then came home at night.
I: Would you have liked to have lived in London?
M: No, I don’t like. I like Rugby because it’s peaceful, quiet town. And education’s very good than other towns because I got two children — one son, one daughter. Never they had tutor or anything and they both went to the grammar school and my son is a doctor and my daughter is Media Director in London.
I: So they’ve done very well, then.
M: Very well, very well because my daughter, she married to an English boy. And she live in London. We went there so many times when she needed for babysitting. That’s our job. We have to look after them. Now, yesterday she rang that she needed us on 5th of February and she said, “Come before. Stay with us.” And we stayed there for one week.
I: And how old are those grandchildren?
M: My son live with us here. He work in Leicester [as] GP there. My granddaughter is 11 and my grandson is eight and my granddaughter from daughter she is 10. She [has given] the 11 plus now in January. She going to the private school. And now yesterday she tell me, “Nani,” she got interview from City of London school. She is very intelligent. Very good. And my granddaughter here, she do the 11 plus as well. She want to go to Rugby High School. And she asked me, “Dadi, if I got the same school [as] my aunty–because my daughter go to Rugby High–if I go there, what you going to give me?” I said, “What do you want? I will give you.” She said, “I want iPhone no. 8.” I said, “Alright.” I didn’t know the price of that so I said, “Alright, I will give you.” Then my son come, nobody give you that thing. Mum, don’t buy it. Then she is a bit sad. I said, “What you want I will give you.” She is happy now. She waiting for score; she had the score but they didn’t tell the school yet. They’re going to tell in March. 1st of March. They’re going to send the email. Let me see what happens now. But she don’t want to go to [Ashlawn?] Grammar, but still she want to go to Rugby High. That’s it. My life is we live together; early in the morning, get up, do prayer, cook the vegetable or something because my son don’t want to cook in the evening time because it smell. I cook it in the morning, then we eat in the evening. Last time [late in the day?] we don’t have our dinner, just sandwich or anything.
I: So you sound very settled.
M: I am very settled because my mum and dad is in India…we brought them here because we’re only four sisters, no brother. And they came here. On my husband’s side, mum and dad they came here as well. They’re two brothers, they both live here as well. They live with us for 15 years. After that, five years ago they both gone and my mum and dad is gone as well. We miss them. They were very nice. They have to go anyway…you have to suffer but memories still live. And my elder sister in Nottingham. Her husband died as well. And she got pneumonia last week. I’m going tomorrow to stay with her. For one whole week. That’s it. I’m really quite happy. Nobody is in India but still we went to see my sister-in-law there. My daughter-in-law’s parents there. For two to three weeks…not much more than that. Our family is quite happy.
I: Thank you very much.
M: Thank you very much for that.
Crossing Borders was an arts project made possible by funding from the West Midlands Museum Development Small Grant Scheme 2017. Find out more about the project here.