I have been to the airport many times before, but never to fly.
I used to tutor a kid who lived near the airport, went there every day by a train. Living near the station had its advantages.
Every time I saw a plane fly across the sky, every time I stared at it, I felt sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I had to leave home, and happy because perhaps, I would have a better life.
How many days were left? Two? Three? Five? I stood there and counted, and lost count, and then I counted again.
America seemed like a distant land, a happier land, but tell me one thing: does happiness exist without family?
At times the scholarship didn’t seem worth it. At times this big dirty city full of idiots and miscreants seemed like heaven. At times poverty and no rule of law felt like home. At times…
Well, I was not mad. No matter how many thoughts flowed through my mind. No matter how much hesitation I had. I always knew I had to get on that plane one day.
I went to the airport early. Some would call it too early, but these are the things excitement does to you. Excited for a better future, excited for a better environment, excited for better education, excited to escape hell maybe? Why did the overcrowded capital of a third-world country suddenly feel like heaven? It hadn’t for the last 20-odd years.
I first came to this city when I was little. My father got a promotion and his salary was increased, but for some reason, the size of my room decreased compared to the one that I had in my little town. A small flat in the unhealthiest corner of the city. I could see hills from my windows: hills that smelt bad. Hills of garbage.
I shake my head and open my folder of documents in front of the immigration officer. The fat person in the uniform sits with all the disgust in the world on his face, as though someone was forcing him to do this job.
I try to concentrate on finding my passport instead of staring at him, but I can’t. Even this officer looks someone whom I want to adore; my own race, my own blood, my own people.
“What’s taking so long?”
“I can’t find my passport.”
Seriously I can’t. I swear I could remember putting it in my folder, but I can’t find it anywhere here now.
With even more disgust, the officer looks at me and says, “Well, rot here then. Move aside from the line.”
I speed through everything, my luggage, my pile of books, even my shaving kit. I look at the officer and he looks ugly. Everyone around me looks ugly. I feel a sudden rush. I need to leave, I need to escape. I deserve a better place than here. I throw my clothes all over the place and look for my passport like a man possessed.