Friday, June 04, 2010

The final straw

Abdul, our wonderful driver for 20 days in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan has had some very bad luck in his life. Despite hard work and determination he was dealt an almost lethal series of blows - lost his businesses, his houses and his marriage when he was denied a green card in the U.S. After years of wrangling with paperwork and a positive end in sight (he was assured by his lawyer that the green card was weeks away), his visa was cancelled and he was suddenly and unexpectedly asked to leave the country. As his daughter is American, once she is old enough to return to the U.S. to live and go to school, he will possibly be able to come back and start life again.

He sold one of his U.S. businesses to a colleague who has stopped paying him. Another so-called friend who offered to assist him with his houses etc.,  basically stole his identity. Abdul is helpless and has no recourse in the U.S.  He was forced to trust people who just screwed him. No other way to put it.

He tried many different approaches to survival in Syria and he was offered many jobs. Nothing seemed to fit. Bureaucratic road blocks prevented him from setting up any number of businesses. Entering a monastery even crossed his mind. However, he had to make money to support his family and try to survive his exile or as he calls it his "permanent sabbatical".  For the sake of his sanity he chose to live in a tourist bubble which means that most of his interactions are with people from outside the country. He bought a new car and decided that driving tourists around would make the necessary money and keep him happy.

Throughout all his travails he more or less kept the faith.

One day last year, he was on his way into a hotel when he heard a cat crying in distress from an alley. He went to investigate and found that a small cat was on his back fending off a large aggressive cat that was attacking him. Abdul shooed away the aggressor and saved the small cat which  he said looked him straight and unblinkingly in the eyes for a moment and then ran quickly away. Abdul heard a screeching of brakes and saw that the little cat had been hit and killed by a car.

He said that was the moment that he lost whatever faith he might have had left. Gone.

When he told this story I couldn't help bursting into tears. Talk about hard luck and disappointment.
In his very kind and gentle way, Abdul apologized to me for telling the story.  


  1. This was so sad that I didn't know how to respond. He sounds like such a nice guy. I wish we weren't so harsh with our immigration policies, but I guess I'm in the minority.

  2. This poor man had everything so wrong in his life at the same time. He just couldn't recover and he's hardly a was too much for anyone. The immigration policy is frustrating because the rules appear to be applied unevenly.