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Old lady of Aleppo and Abdullah

Posted on: January 9, 2018


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Sometimes he looked out of the window at the airplane on the runway or stared at the ceiling of the office where he was. There were three other men besides him in the room.  They were wearing uniforms of three different colors. It was obvious that they belonged to different agencies or offices. Awhile later the man in light blue uniform said to him; “if you admit that you are a Pakistani national and sign this paper that says that you are Pakistani; we’ll deport you to Pakistan with a request to the concerned department to treat you humanely”

Turning his face towards the man who asked him to sign the document, he looked at him for a moment, and without saying a single word he looked out of the window at the airplane.  The man’s silence provoked the soldier in dark blue uniform to pull his hair and snarled, “While searching your clothes we found things that prove that you are a Pakistani. You traveled without visa and passport to Iraq and then to Syria. You worked in Syria for an NGO to serve the war stricken people. Both Syria and Iraq has confirmed that you are neither a born Syrian nor Iraqi or Arab, but you are Pakistani”

The man looked at the uniformed officer without any expression and went back to staring at the airplane though the window on the runway.  The third man fully clad in khaki uniform who was listening quietly lost his temper at last and howling at the man hitting the table said; “Go to hell man! We’re least bothered who you are or where you come from. “Our government doesn’t acknowledge you as an Iraqi or Syrian refugee; you are a Pakistani for sure. We will send you to Pakistan in the air plane you see there on the runway”.  He then looked at the two officers. Those two men took him to the Immigration Investigation office in hand cuffs, then towards the airplane standing on Budapest airport.  They handed the man to the captain of the plane and came back to the same room.

While the plane was waiting to take off, the airhostess brought him a glass of water.  She kindly said in English to him to drink water. He looked at her gratefully.  She understood his helplessness and heartrending story from his silence. His silence exposed his unaided vulnerability to her. So she assured him more gently that she’ll take care of all the way during this flight from Budapest to Islamabad.

After a little while, the plane speedily took off.  He was feeling worn out so he closed his eyes and rested his head against back of the seat. He didn’t know his destination.  His thoughts wandered similar to the way plane floated in the sky.  Memories ran on his mind screen one after the other.

Due to bad weather and air pocket, the plane hit turbulence, but very quickly it alleviated again.  Due to the turbulence he emerged from the unfathomable ocean of thoughts.  He looked out of the window but there was nothing except sheer darkness. He modestly asked the airhostess; “What’s the time now? Where are we heading to?” airhostess replied; “It’s 12: 40 according to G.M.T time now and we’re crossing the Atlantic Ocean and not flying over any country” He thanked the air hostess politely and smiled to himself. It was 23rd March today; his 57th birthday! But there was no one to wish him well on his birthday, or any country in the whole wide world to own him as its citizen. Even at the present moment he was not on any land but passing over International Ocean. He took a deep breath like a habitual chain smoker taking a last puff of his life.

He was again lost in his utopia.  It seemed like yesterday when his father came back to Pakistan and tried to get his job back in the Railways.  He found that the country had changed a lot.  The fall of Dacca was a great loss, but splitting of the world’s greatest Islamic state was a greater loss.  People responsible for this treason became the sovereign leaders of the two divisions.

Years passed by as he tried to prove his identity.  His father was not able to get his job back, or any benefits such as pension or provident fund for his previous service at the Railways.  The society did not accept him either.  He felt helpless, and became physically weak.  He could not endure all this pain, and few years later passed away.  Life is like a stage with lights and shades, grief and relief as audience watch the players.  His younger sister, Miriam got married and migrated to Canada with her husband.

 

He felt lost after the death of his father.  He was not able to earn a living to support his home or to complete his education.  He needed a Computerized National Identity Card, CNIC for employment.  The old Identity Card he had was not accepted, and it was impossible to get CNIC.  Hence it became impossible to get a CNIC Card. He was alien in his own country. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities for him.  One day he was sitting in his room and kept looking at his father’s photo on the wall. He getting got up  and took down the portrait from the wall wiped it with his shirt.  Then he placed it upside down on the old worn out table. He had decided then to leave not only this home but also the country for good. He took  a last look  at the photo of his father then his room and  left with the money he had. He got on a boat to Dubai, without the passport or visa. From Dubai he went the city of Mosel in Iraq.  It was a tough journey.  At times he took a bus, or rode on the back of some truck or joined a caravan of camels, or any means he could avail. There was fierce civil war going on in Mosel. He had planned to move to any European country where he could somehow settle down  and live for the rest of his life. But he got job at one of the NGOs in a European country as a safety guard for the war stricken vulnerable people. He was  assigned to supply dry ration and water bottles from his camp to war affected areas in Mosel. He served this NGO in Mosel city for many years.  Few years later, a religious party took control of Mosel and closed its borders.  They made prisoners all the citizens of Mosul.  All NGOs then refrained from their public service programs.

1 Response to "Old lady of Aleppo and Abdullah"

Quite a poignant story. Will check out part 2.

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