Goodbye.Posted: January 27, 2013
I sit on the hard plastic, half-broken, chair, waiting, waiting, waiting, for them to call my flight to board. People crowded all around. My gaze fixed on one spot, desperately taking breaths, trying to regain control.
I can’t try any longer, I can’t keep control. The tears welling in my eyes spill over. They roll down my cheeks, faster and faster they come. The anger swells in me, and my whole body shakes those tears from my eyes. They roll on to my cracked, open, cheeks and they sting deep. It only causes the tears to come all the more. I can’t even cry without pain thanks to this place.
I brush the tears aside enough to be able to see to reach for my phone. I open it and begin hurriedly typing a message to my friend:
“I hate this freaking country. I can’t wait to leave!”
Beep, beep. A reply
“What’s happened? No one hates this country more than I do!”
My fingers quickly tap out a response.
“It’s so stupid, nothing’s ever going to change. I’m so glad I’m getting out!”
The phone starts ringing in my hand, I look down, it’s a different friend. I try to steady my voice.
– “Hey! I just rang to say goodbye and see how you were feeling with leaving.”
I can’t contain it, I sob down the phone, trying desperately to catch my breath enough to say goodbye. But I can’t. I just sit there, crying. Anger, frustration, hurt, continuing to rise inside me.
– “Are you ok? Where are you?”
– “I’m leaving, and I couldn’t be happier, this place is a nightmare.”
– “oookkkkk… what’s going on? What’s happened?”
So I take some deep breaths, I calm myself, and I begin to tell the story. I recount it all, moment by moment, to her:
How my driver was late, how he ran out of gas, how they closed the roads, and how I was stressed before we even reached the airport road.
Then I tell her of the extra checks, the one where they thoroughly pat down your body with their hands, and then open your cases, empty them, and then leave you to put them back together; all the while telling you to hurry up.
I tell her how weary and on edge I was by the time we reached the airport gates.
I continue telling her how my driver decided to try to skip a search, how the police dragged me out of the car and screamed in my face. How they shouted at my driver, pulled him for the vehicle and beat him with their guns whilst I stood and watched. How I pleaded with him to not argue back, how I thought he was going to die in front of me.
I tell her of the continued increase in checks, the policemen and soldiers who shoved, and pushed, and pulled, and touched me, who kept screaming and shouting at me. How they shut my hand in a door and never once checked if I was ok.
I tell her how they refused to let me go to the bathroom, and how they ran off with my passport.
I tell her how they dropped my laptop on the floor.
I tell her it all, moment by moment.
Airports here are horrible at the best of times, today was even worse than normal. I let the tears spill over freely once more. She hears me from the other end of the phone.
-“I’m sorry Em, that sounds terrible. Don’t give up hope though, don’t remember just these hours, remember the years as a whole.”
I know she’s right. You mustn’t judge a book by its cover, and certainly not by its back cover. I know in the morning I’ll feel differently. In the morning I’ll love this place once more, I’ll long to be back, I’ll hold hope and faith for it; against all the odds.
She speaks again: “Remember the kindness in there too, magnify the light. Those women who cared, remember them.”
I think back, she’s right, I must remember them. The ladies in their cold little metal container check-point. The ladies who saw me crying as they began to search me, who made me sit, who insisted I drink tea with them. Who asked my story, and after listening, asked me to come back. The ladies who cared enough to pour me tea and listen. It is them I must remember.
They call my flight.
-“Thanks, I’ve got to go, they’re going to board my flight. I’ll remember. Love you, see you again, take care.”
-“Love you Em, fly safe.”
I find my seat on the plane and stare out of the window, I let my thoughts calm as I look out over the war-planes, helicopters, tanks, armed soldiers, that fill my view. I find myself praying:
“God, have mercy on them. They can’t help it, they just don’t know you, they don’t know your love, haven’t tasted your forgiveness. Have mercy on them, don’t judge them harshly. Give them a chance to be saved too.”
“Goodbye, until next time.”