Too Often Lonesome
When Alok Agarwal first left Delhi for the United States in 1997, his wife, Shafali, and his son, Ankush, cried because he was leaving. "Why are you leaving us?" his wife recalled thinking. "We want to come with you."
Within a few months, Mrs. Agarwal joined her husband, who was a computer technician, in New Jersey, but their son, who suffers from a chronic fever and cough, stayed behind with relatives. "He is very sick," Mrs. Agarwal said.
Three and a half weeks before the attack on the World Trade Center, the Agarwals spent a lazy day together, hanging around their Jersey City apartment, going to a mall.
But Mr. Agarwal, 37, was unhappy about something. His wife was leaving for her annual trip back home to Delhi. "This is your last time going to India," he told her. "When you go back home, I feel lonely in the house."
It was important for Mrs. Agarwal to return to India, to care for Ankush, 8. It was equally important for Mr. Agarwal to stay. He was the only one allowed to work in this country, and he was a computer technician for Cantor Fitzgerald. On an August day, Mr. Agarwal saw his wife off at the airport. He was supposed to see her in Delhi in November.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on July 14, 2002.