Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things That Will Be Missed: Mr. F

Today I am writing from my heart. The person who I am writing about, who shall be known here as Mr. F, has no idea that I am writing this. I wonder if he will ever read it - he does have the link to this blog...

Mr. F is from Pakistan. Like many men from the Indian Sub-Continent, he was sent here to work by his family so that he could send money back home. He is currently making money for his sisters' dowries. He wants them to have good husbands. There are no good job opportunities for him back in his hometown.

Mr. F is treated like a servant by certain people, but like a good friend by others. I have known him for about 3 years, but it was only this summer that we became more than acquaintances. Mr. F, you see, is my driver. Every weekend he takes my parents and I to the aforementioned Carrefour. He has also taken my Mom, sister, and I to malls like Faisiliyah or Burj Mamlakah (aka Kingdom Tower) so that we could deplete our money of frivolous things. Mr. F has never complained once or made anything we did hsi business.

Last year, when my sister was in Riyadh with me, he took us after our shopping trips to buy the most delicious and fresh Tameez bread, which we enjoyed in the car on the trip back. He wouldn't allow us to pay for it. It amazes me that he actually wanted to help us, but what did we ever do for him? Sure, we paid him well for his services, but we weren't really close. His small acts of kindness meant a lot to me. I began to see him as a decent man.

For a while, however, I couldn't really muster the courage to get to know him as a person rather than as a driver. It's hard for me to strike up a conversation with someone new when other people are around. My social anxiety is not as harsh as it is for many other people I know, but it still exists. I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't really talk to him that much unless we were alone, and how shifty does that sound? I decided to show my appreciation with kindness and politeness. That's all I knew how to do.

One day, I had a surprise. I was alone in the car with him for a brief moment. It was during this summer. I decided to ask him a question. I asked him, "Why are you here?" How does a young man like him choose to come to Riyadh? Well, I learned that he didn't exactly choose. He keeps coming back, though, for the pay. Whether he likes what he is doing or not, he stays to send his money back home.

Since I asked him that question, I was able to feel closer to him. He wasn't just my driver anymore, he was beginning to become my friend. Don't get silly ideas, guys - that is all that he has stayed, I assure you! Sometimes we texted about silly things like the World Cup (we both were happy when Spain won! Ole!) and sometimes he would call and tell me about the goings on of his job.

I was desperate for gossip of the "outside world" of Riyadh. I barely leave this compound, so his conversation proved to be entertaining, enjoyable, and informative as to the goings-on.

I learned that Mr. F was a smart, capable man who could speak several languages as well as deal with current technologies. I learned this from those phone calls, but also from car rides where it was just my Mom, Mr. F, and me. He seemed more easy-going around women (and he did tell me that all of his friends in Saudi were mostly female. He also told me not to get funny ideas!) There is a question: Why was he a driver for us lazy shoppers if he was a smart guy? Couldn't he be doing something else with his life?

I learned that his obligations to his family are more important than his own happiness. His sisters' dowries and happy marriages are worthwhile to him. How many people in this world are like this? Sure, he used to complain to me about his job from time to time, but he was still doing it. The money he was making was meaningful.

I know many people who are taking certain jobs because of the money. However, they are not making money for anyone but themselves. They become lawyers, doctors, etc only for the benefit of having a beautiful widescreen TV and shiny cars.

Mr. F doesn't take a well-paying job for this selfish reason. He's actually spending years of his life to help his family back home. To some people, the idea of sacrificing years of their lives to other people is like martyrdom. To other people, like Mr. F, it is expected of them. Is that a good thing; an honourable thing? To be honest, I don't know.

Back home for him isn't so great, either, from what I understand. Pakistan is going through some rough times right now with the flooding, and it is a country that is scrutinised especially by the West for being corrupt and a "terrorist mill" of sorts. It has been so easy for the rest of the world to forget that Pakistan has bred more than just "terrorists" but also real people who love and care for their families. Mr. F is definitely one of them. He is an individual like any other and he is from this same "terrorist" country. I wish more people could understand this.

Mr. F is basically my only friend is Saudi right now. I'm going to miss having the ability to call or him for no reason. He is a funny, intelligent guy who is sacrificing so much. I don't know many noble people like him. He doesn't act noble, or like a big man, but I know that he is. He is humble, and religious, and loyal to his friends. If I don't get to see him again, this post will mean a lot to me.

Mr. F, I wish I could tell everyone your name so that they could know who you were, so that they could say to you what I cannot say to you over the phone: that you are an awesome friend and a good man. No matter what you think of yourself, you are doing something right. I know through things that you have told me that you truly care about your friends and family. I can't say that about a lot of people. The day you told me that I was your friend, I was so happy.

Thank you, Mr. F. As well as my dear parents, I will really, really miss you when I leave.

NOTE: Please, if you have the means, do donate* to help the victims of the Pakistan floods.
*There are certainly other ways to donate.

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