He came till the end of the passage that leads to emigration check, inside the Airport. Behind him, just outside the corridor, I could see the busy crowd hurriedly moving here and there, as if nothing changed their routine. He looked at me questioningly, and I silently emptied my wallet and gave the remaining cash to him. ‘Give me the wrist watch, you may rather buy a better piece over there’ he chuckled. Before I speak, he was in action, removing my watch from my hand, bid farewell and went away. I was mechanically waving my hand, though he was completely vanished from my sight.
The escalator pushed me to the end where I found the Officer with full uniform, neatly pressed and clean, bringing the ambiance more of official, creating an air of stiffness that stirred the fear within me. I tried to smile at him and he rather not, collected the passport from my hand and glanced at my face inquisitively. I could hear the sound of stamping on my passport and he waved and showed me the way to Aircraft.
The pathway was narrow and neat with dull lights, which created the feel of isolation. I felt as if I am evolving from one world to another as I was traveling abroad for the first time. The pathway came to the end where I could see the entrance of the Plane.
Like a robot, the Air hostess shown me my seat casually. I was little nervous and found a Foreign traveler sitting at my next seat. She must be twenty five, wearing casuals, probably in a holiday mood, gave a thin smile that was real and friendly. Her face was pale with brown eyes that originally displayed the excitement and enthusiasm. After few minutes, the silence was broke by her, as she started asking me in a soft voice, ’Wat’s ur name?’ I looked at her face as her accent was unfamiliar and answered ‘am Saleem going to Dubai on employment’.
‘I came from Swiss on vacation’ she retorted. The Air hostess greeted us and offered Tobleron chocolates. ‘It’s my country chocolates’ she was jumping with excitement.
When I woke up from sleep, I found the next seat empty. She must have left, I thought. The Plane was waiting at Delhi and someone told me, it will take another half an hour for the departure. It must be a transit point. My mind was thinking about my family members and the faces appeared one after another like the slides shown in the theater screen at the time of interval. I could hear the sound at my back seat, a small boy crying for want of more toffees. The smell of the perfumed air inside refreshed my nostrils.
I felt the freezing cold, when I got down from the Plane. It must be winter and I was not wearing the proper clothes to combat with the climate. The bus carrying the flight passengers was slowly moving towards the Airport main entrance. The grandeur of Dubai Airport left me in astonishment with surprise. At a distance the announcement ‘Marhaba, Ahlan wa sahlan’ left me in total confusion, as I was not able to understand a bit of them. People of different nationalities lined up in various counters and moving fast, as the counter was so brisk and active even at night time.
We were four persons, a slim guy, a dark guy, a fat middle aged person and I, looking at each other as we were not known already, though we traveled in the same Plane. The person carrying visa copies was leading us and we got up in the Mazda bus which was more comfortable than it is expected to be. The driver was speeding the bus, as the neat road of the city and the condition of the bus helped for the same.
It was the labor camp, rows of small compartment like houses indicated to think so. We all the four got down from the Mazda bus and followed the one who was leading us, in silence. The odor of various foods which was under preparation over there, increased my appetite, made me tired with hunger. I greedily devoured the chicken sandwich that was originally served to me at that hour. ‘I will take you in the morning, be ready at 7 am’, the man told and vanished in the dark.
‘Be seated sir, our MD will see you in a couple of minutes’ the young man with ‘white and white’ uniform, wearing a red neck tie, smiled with the gleaming teeth. I sat on the green velvet couch which was so soft, soothed me and eased me. The reception Air-conditioner made the atmosphere cool yet the air was refreshing. ‘Could you please see our MD sir?’ the young man courteously leading me to the big cabin.
The office of the MD was really extravagant, with long Sandalwood color table and leather cushioned revolving chair. Behind him, was a book shelf with sliding door? At the corner of the room, one coat stand was stationed and a midnight blue color coat was draped on it. The fragrance of lilac filled the air inside the room. I expected an aged MD, to my surprise, I found the young one, must be in his late thirties, wearing neatly pressed shirt and pant, well shaven face with curious eyes.
‘Welcome to Dubai, welcome to our Organization’ he smiled at me. His smile was very charming and transforming. ‘I hope it will take a week or two to settle down as you are new to this city’ he spoke with a soft voice.
Now I felt as if I am evolving from one world to another, truly. It must a new world with vested responsibilities and not the world that I lived till yesterday, I thought.
-A story by U.AYUB KHAN