Who Am I?

September 23, 2013


In December 2008, going to Bangladesh for the first time after my leg surgery and radiation, this marks starting of the cancer fight. Doctor told me not to sit for long time at a stretch. After one and half or two hours I should walk. There is a risk for all human being to get blood clot for long 
drive or flight. My risk is much higher than general people. Right after the plane took off from San Francisco understood that we would miss the connecting flight from Hong Kong. The connecting plane for Dhaka would leave one hour before we would land on Hong Kong. The question is why didn’t Cathay Pacific let us know that? Generally tickets are bought at least two to three months earlier. At that time there were two hours gap between two flights. In these two months the airlines changed the flight schedule. But didn’t pay attention to that travelers from SFO would miss the connecting flight. Told this to the flight crews. They said they would let the ground people know. After the plane landed in Hong Kong, saw that passengers who missed connecting flights were brought to Hotels. But not every country’s’ citizens! Those who have Bangladeshi passport they need visa to go out of the airport so they have to stay in there for more than twenty-four hours! Bangladeshi Americans left with others for the hotels. I held our passports in hand and asked the airline employees that those people have to live there because of the airline’s mistake?

Ten people including three very young children. One of the attendants said it’s not his mistake. I said that I didn’t mean him. Talking about their bosses. He said, you have hotels to stay. I said we are not going. He asked, are you staying with them? Three of us said, yes. I told them that anybody who has to stay this long are given day­rooms inside the airport. He said that it’s not possible to get rooms suddenly. I told them, what you are doing is violating human rights do you know that? He called his boss and talked something in Chinese. Then said let’s go and stay in the waiting area. After going there, saw some small sofa chairs which were already occupied! I asked him, what are you trying to say that with these young children have to stay here for more than a day? He was talking very rudely. I was talking, raising up my voice. Knew that people listen when you raise your voice and here nothing would happen if I talk very politely. At one point I told him, you are so smart and how did you guys do this crappy job? (First time used any bad word to someone).

And said, “You are forcing me to say the thing I am going to say. Many other countries people say that Americans sue more often. Let me tell you that after I go back I will sue your airline and will ask all Bangladeshi Americans not to use your airlines.” He got very angry but called his boss. Then said he could give three day-rooms. Nothing more than that. Then thirteen people (including us) stayed in those tiny places (don’t want to give shame to the word “room”), lay down for just two or three (or less) hours in shift. After more than twenty-four hours with the passengers of that day’s flight we started our flight to Dhaka. They had to give a bigger plane. When just twenty minutes to land, the captain said we can’t land because of fog in Dhaka!

We were going to Bangkok! In Bangkok the same plane! Now this time there were fifty plus Bangladeshi people from many countries! Before I said anything Deepto said, “Ma, do something.” The word gave me such a relief as I had become so tired! Again stood those people holding the passports. The airlines employee said, you have hotel rooms. I told him, I know that. I asked him, what would happen these people? The same old story! Asked him for day-­rooms. He said how is it possible to arrange for these many people? That airlines wasn’t that much responsible. We were then passengers of Dragon Airlines (Hong Kong to Dhaka). They were not at fault for Cathay Pacific two days earlier. Still I said, “do you know that we are traveling for three days?” The young man was good not like his co­worker. And of course they were way better than people at Hong Kong. It took less time than there. He said can’t give more than five rooms. I said, “you have to give for fifty people. Otherwise I am staying here.” He came after a while and said, “OK all of you are getting rooms.” Asked me to go to hotel. I said, “I will go after all of these people go to day­rooms.” After sending all of them he asked me, “Are you happy now? Now let’s go and I will show you the bus for hotel.” I thanked him a lot. Everybody except one family left way earlier. I knew that family a little bit while living in another state. They left for hotel on the other day. They were sitting and observing what I was doing. The husband said, “What you have shown today!” He wanted to say more. I diverted the conversation. Twenty four hours later I had to go through such experience in Dhaka. The person in immigration was an O.C.D. person. Asked simple questions so many times! Deepto started throwing up. We were answering questions while I was holding the polythene bag to his mouth. At the hotel room in Bangkok I was thinking that just seven days ago this airport was at stand still! Airlines, airport employees shut everything down and were protesting! And after seven days I was asking, arguing for human rights! Had tears and was thinking that I have to keep my mouth shut at Dhaka airport! The irony was I really had to just after we landed! I never asked anyone not to travel by Cathay Pacific. The paper for some kind of compensation is still in some shelf at our house. I got what I wanted!

Three days ago heard the Kenya mall shooting from a friend first. Was busy that day and didn’t watch it. The friend said that they first asked all Muslims to leave. After that started thinking, what I would do if I were there?! Would I leave to live? In that case I would be dead to myself, to my conscience. If Mizan and Deepto were with me, would I ask them to leave? Knowing that everybody would be killed and still would I ask them to stay? Each parent wants his children to live; would save them at any cost. Still I am thinking would I be able to say Deepto that now you are Muslim first then a human being?! In my mind I am thinking how Jews were asked to make different lines in World War II. How Hindus were asked to do that in 1971 in Bangladesh! Because of the blue passport I was able to fight for humanity in Hong Kong, Bangkok may be for that same blue passport the opposite can happen! Would I hide my passport then instead of showing it?! While thinking these one thing came to my mind and I smiled! In my worst nightmare if I stand in the Muslims line, they would kill me first! Could I be a Muslim in their eyes? Not talking about burkha, women without any hijab would ever be a Muslim in their eyes? I am the greatest enemy!

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