|The Foreigner (standard:drama, 8102 words)|
|Author: Bobby Zaman||Added: Feb 04 2002||Views/Reads: 2137/1265||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Mamun Karim, a student from Bangladesh, moves to the States to study and discovers the important ties of identity and roots.|
THE FOREIGNER by Bobby Zaman When Mamun Karin left Bangladesh to go study in Chicago, he took with him, among other belongings, a solemn oath never to return again. The sad state of affairs in his city, Dhaka, had taken a toll on him, even though he was but twenty-five at the time of his departure for the States. But one didn't have to be much older than Mamun to see what was really going on. Turmoil was the new sub-capital of Dhaka. It came in all forms, political, social, economical, agricultural, horticultural, in every incarnation it reared its head out of the corners, gullies, and pavements of the city. Education had slowly deteriorated into utter tomfoolery, a court-jester's vice, in spite of the fact that new schools were popping up all over the place on a weekly basis. Frustrated housewives, exhausted from trying to keep a tally on their husbands' harem of mistresses, were the founders and principals of these new havens of wisdom. The only problem was running a school in a city where politics called the shots, and those shots, more often than not, sank their authority into the city's bloodstream to incite negative outcomes, the most heinous of these outcomes being general strikes. Strikes that lasted dawn to dusk, seventy-two hours, indefinitely. Life stopped, books were shut, doors locked, idleness descend. Mamun Karim sought to get out of this temporary state of freedom. Freedom was across the oceans, America, where people called all the shots and presidents bowed to their whims or kissed the White House goodbye. Yes, that was Mamun Karim's destiny, that's where his suffocated existence would be able to breathe the fresh air of life. On a hot August night Mamun Karim boarded a Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10 bound for London and New York. His eagerness to leave this loathed soil behind him was so strong that he failed to hear the last words his mother said to him, "Come back soon, my darling, I'll be counting the days." Then he was off. Off to Oz, the Promised Land, follow the yellow brick road all the way to Salvation. As he climbed the steps up to the aircraft his dreams already preceded reality and soared in the sky above him. He grinned, his heart fluttered, he clutched his boarding pass in one hand and a briefcase in the other, on his way to enter the world where great things happen, and technology defies natural laws. This is the last time, thought Mamun, as a stewardess pointed him to his seat, that I have to see these little brown faces, faces without dreams or aspirations, faces that know only backbiting and jealousy. Goodbye, good riddance. Chicago is just as uncomfortably hot and humid in August as it is year round in Bangladesh, with the obvious exceptions of Monsoon rains and tropical vegetation. It was one such morning two days later that another stewardess waked Mamun, this time aboard a TWA, to tell him that they had landed at O'Hare International Ariport. Mamun had slept for thirty-six straight hours, without eating, or once using the facilities. His head felt heavy and his stomach growled. But forget these petty physical ailments, the time had come, finally. He was standing on the land that would be the foundation of his future. The wait was over. The captain's voice cackled over the intercom, "Passengers with U.S. passports only, to disembark the aircraft. Thank you." At least that's all that filtered through and reached Mamun's ears, out of all the usual jargon about Fasten Seat Belts signs and extinguishing cigarettes. Those who qualified rose from their seat, gathered belongings from overhead compartments, and stood in line, which moved slower than a stream of snails. Mamun was ready to go. While he waited for his turn to get off the plane, he brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and smiled at himself in the mirror. Out the window he could see baggage carts moving up to the belly of the plane, and thick-armed handlers picking up loads and dumping them onto the carts one on top of the other. He tried to look out for his own suitcase, but gave up after a few minutes. The line moved, trickled down to a handful of people with American passports, and this time a female voice came over the intercom announcing that the rest may now begin to leave the aircraft. Mamun sprang to his feet, retrieved his passport from the inside pocket of his blazer, and headed for the door. Heat engulfed him as soon as he walked out. Buses were waiting at the foot of the steps to transport Click here to read the rest of this story (817 more lines)
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