Having born in this world, we are all on our individual journey called life. Our journey has begun. We are all traveling this great journey now. And until this great journey ends, we study, we play, we lie, and we work and make love. Sometimes we also meet new people who sometimes leave big impressions on our mind.
On my way back to Japan last October, I had a transit in Dhaka. After bearing all the hassles of transiting, I at last boarded my Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. I was adjusting myself in my seat when a neatly dressed Bengali guy ushered in a poorly dressed nervous looking guy to the seat next to mine.
Wearing a faded T-Shirt and blue cotton pants, he might have been my age. But he looked older. His cracked hands told the story of a tough struggle. He carried no hand luggage, except for a yellow file. The well-dressed Bengali guy said something to him in a commanding tone which probably meant “This is where you remain seated until we get to the destination.”
He looked at me nervously. I smiled. An understanding smile, not a condescending one. Such empathy is natural for me. Probably I owe it to my own humble upbringing and growing up in a Buddhist environment. He adjusted his seat belts clumsily. Maybe it was his first flight.
After sometime, the neatly dressed guy was again passing through the aisle. My seat mate raised his hand and called to him. He had wanted to ask him something. But the neat man simply pretended not to hear.
The plane began to taxi for take-off. My new friend seemed more comfortable now. We somehow found ourselves trying to strike up a conversation.
In Hindi, it was. My Hindi is very very poor, and his was poorer. Limited to few words, we somehow began.
Me: “Me”, pointing to myself, I said, “Cigay.”
He: “Going where?”
Me: “You, going where?”
He: “Malaysia. To work in the construction and factory there.”
Me: “You from Dhaka?”
He: “No. My home, one day by bus from Dhaka.”
Me: “You wife and kids?”
He: “Yes. Wife and one kid at home.”
Me: “I also, wife and kid at home. Same Same!”
Me: “When? Come back Bangladesh?”
He: “One year, two years. Don’t know. Need money.”
And as we conversed with our limited common vocabulary and sign language, we both felt a strange sense of camaraderie. We were both going away to foreign lands, leaving behind our families, in order to pursue our dreams.
As I laid back to take a nap, my friend was looking out of the window, on the white clouds below, that rose like mountains of white cotton. Probably, inside those endlessly rolling billows, he was seeing his wife and kid smiling and waiting for him in front of their thatched hut, some where by the bamboo groves by the side of a rural river.
And as I rolled back against my inclining seat, I also plunged myself into a reverie of my family back home. When I awoke, it was time to land at Bangkok.
Before we disembarked, we shook hands. I wished him safe journey on his connecting flight to Malaysia, and good luck and success in his new job in a new land. He seemed very pleased and happy. He made a gesture of thanking his God. And he wished me the same.
I was waiting for my next flight to Osaka inside the Airport, when I saw him again. This time, he was in long queue of Bengali men – all like him holding a yellow file each, led by the neatly dressed guy. He saw me too. He waved at me smiling. I smiled and waved at him.
Then my eyes slowly drifted from the long line of Bengali men holding yellow files to the myriad of other travelers – white, black, brown, yellow, fat, slim, ugly, beautiful, all in hurry - all wanting to be happy and avoid suffering. Then my mind finally rested on myself. And I thought, “We all. Same, Same!”