Wednesday, November 30, 2005

noor - a story of afghan teenager

December 27th, 1979 : 700 troops, including 54 KGB spetsnaz special forces troops from the Alpha Group and Zenith Group, dressed in Afghan uniforms seized all major governmental, military and media buildings in Kabul, including their primary target - the Tajbeg Presidential Palace , where they killed then President Hafizullah Amin . By next day morning, the Vitebsk parachute division landed at the airport at Bagram city and the invasion of Afghanistan by Russian forces was underway. Around the same time, amidst war cries, a baby boy – named Noor- must have been born to his Afghan parents.

I met Noor by chance when he came to start my stranded car .He worked with Indian expatriate owned car garage. I was immediately struck by his tall slender body figure, fair complexion, chiseled long nose. He could easily be camouflaged as a Greek, Turk, Cypriot, or Iranian. With his disheveled hair, sprouting beard, clad in faded tight jeans, full-sleeved stretchable white t-shirt clinging to his body, hands with elongated fingers roughed out by repair tools, lubricant smearing around his hardened baby face. – He looked every inch a Danny Fischer of Harold Robbins. A young Danny Fisher and his family got into a bout of great American depression and Danny was forced to drop out of school. Noor much the same way as Danny Fischer was sucked into Afghan war of Russians .Noor never got a chance to go to school so question of dropping out of the school never arose. Danny Fisher’s only talent was that of boxing as a means of supporting his family. Noor’s talent was his daredevil spirit and an uncanny ability to master local languages.

I was keen to put him at ease with my sole intention of getting the car started without a need to call a recovery vehicle. Despite his failure to do the job, our ease of communication led him to recount his story. For me, his story was nothing less than a fiction filled with adventure. Within an hour, I decided to pen it down his story on this blog.

From his early age, Noor was never Islamic –either in thoughts or deeds. Much to chagrin of his parents, he cared little about Islamic ways and prayers. As he grew, he became increasingly intolerant towards his parental sermons of do’s and don’ts. At tender age of 10, he decided – enough was enough – He marched towards Afghan–Pak border and embarked upon his saga of international adventure. He hung around for few months in Peshawar, doing odd jobs, accumulating money. He may have been in his early adolescence - but his nerve was definitely that of steel and his resolve was steadfast. He was neither aware of geographical topology nor did he have any sense of direction about his future. All he knew that he longed to be away from Afghanistan – his war ravaged country. He was dreaming of a place where there would be a peace, joy, and opportunity to earn bread without anyone’s interference. Working with Pathans in Peshawar, he deciphered the mechanism of smuggling oneself out of the country. He managed to get in to a boat that brought him to Oman via Iran. Ride to Oman did not cost him any fortune like other innocent victims. In fact, he did not approach any agent for this job, he knew the very people who were at the helm of smuggling human beings. He had saved his money in Peshawar and he knew the worth of it as he started his journey to Oman.

Now after spending few months in Iran he reached Oman – albeit without a valid passport, visa, or any travel documentation. It did not bother him. At last, this new country offered him a peace, freedom and what more - an opportunity to make extra money. He settled with local automobile garage in buraimi- a border town to United Arab Emirates. By now, every new destination made him adept with local language and culture. Pakistan taught him Urdu, Iran - Farsi and now in Oman, he was becoming fluent in Arabic.

Noor by now was settling in Oman but his sights were set for his paradise – a destination that he dreamt when he was child. While in Oman-, our Afghan Danny Fischer’s was confronted with one incident that would appear like one lifted straight from bollywood movie.

One day, working all alone on the weekend in a garage, a young Omani woman ushered in. She was in need for a good mechanic who could give her an estimate for repair of gearbox for her Mercedes car. She had gone to other garage and when told to spend 700 Omani rials (app US$2000), she decided to have it verified from this garage. Noor asked her to come next day. He somehow managed to fix the gearbox without much hassle. When next day his customer arrived, she was visibly happy with the job being done and asked Noor about his charges. Noor was aware that he had not spent anything except his time in overhauling gearbox. He told her to give what she felt was appropriate. Omani woman was generous. She decided to give him 4,000 rials – almost half to what she would have spent elsewhere. Noor’s conscious did not allow that, he took only portion of that. Now this woman customer was impressed by Noor's honesty and in the process they became friendly and exchanged telephone numbers. Few days passed – by now this Omani woman may have just remembered Noor for his honesty . But not so with Noor, He was enamoured by this woman. This could have been his first brush with woman in his prime youth. One night around 3am, Noor telephoned her and talked in Arabic. She was surprised to get a call at such odd hour - but Noor offered an alibi, of working all night and sleeping daytime, for reaching her at odd hours. This lady seemed courteous as she did not snub Noor for calling her at odd time but shows her discomfort when Noor started addressing her as ‘Habibi ‘meaning beloved in Arabic. Next day, this lady was in his garage- upset with his behavior, confronting him with an explanation about his calling at odd hours and referring her as ‘Habibi’. Noor did what a innocent teenager would do. He apologized to her and blamed it on his inebriated state of mind. Perhaps Noor’s innocence or honesty did a trick, she melted with Noor’s charm, and they start exchanging communication on mobile. She was around 25 then, educated and worked with a reputed bank. She started calling Noor, soon telephonic talk turned into amorous visits. Noor always had his disposal number of cars – this suited her –she could now roam incognito with Noor without risking her reputation in society or bank.

One day, she asked Noor to accompany her on a ride to Dubai. Noor picked up a car from his garage and together they were on rendezvous to Dubai. Noor had no passport, valid visa, driving licence, and top of it he was with an Arab lady in another neighboring country. Noor never bothered about any rules, regulations, and procedures. He knew that he was capable of getting through any hurdle with his local language skills and his spirit of adventure. Luckily, he had these traits in abundance. In Dubai, both of them had a great time. Omani lady offered Noor beer, By now Noor was in his seventh heaven – driving with his beloved – in an expensive American car. However to his misfortune, his revelry soon turned into a disaster. In his intoxicated state Noor banged his car into the structure of a roundabout. It was almost nighttime when this happened. He may have been drunk but his senses were still intact. He decided what the best was for the occasion. He called up police and told them about the location of accident. Leaving his car abandoned, he slipped in dark with his beloved and made sure he dropped his lady at her home. He knew his days in Oman were numbered and decided to disappear from his garage. Oman police were smart enough to pick up the threads from the accident and reach Noor’s garage. Seeing Noor absconding, they picked up his colleague and locked him in police custody. His friend frantically started reaching for Noor beseeching him to come to his rescue. Noor’s Afghan loyalty was still intact. He arrived at the police station and surrendered himself. He narrated everything what happened. Noor looked very different then. With his long flowing hair right upto his waist, he must have had looks of young Yanni. He took immense pride in his long hair and vehemently opposed Omani police to have them trimmed. Though Police had him in their custody, they were in a fix. Noor had no nationality, no credentials – on top of it; he spoke fluent Arabic and even claimed to have an Omani wife. After few hours in custody, they decided to release him. First thing he did was to give a slip to Omani police and sneak into UAE.

After working for few garages in UAE, he has now settled in this garage in Dubai. Omani lady is keen to marry Noor but she is not agreeable to his condition of becoming a homemaker after marriage. Noor is aware that he has made this lady pregnant and she had to abort their child. Noor did talk to his mother but she is against his marrying Omani woman and wants him to marry a daughter of his uncle. Noor’s sympathy is with this Omani woman and carries her picture. However, he knows that their paths are different and they can never be married couple.

Being in Dubai, Noor is in touch with his parents and family. He does not remember much of his country or family. His mother wants him to come to Afghanistan to marry Afghan girl but he is not sure if he would. I asked him – what if he were to go to Afghanistan – how would he do it. His answer was simple – go to embassy, get an out pass to Pakistan under amnesty scheme and then slip into Afghanistan. For him, nothing is difficult or impossible.

After 10 years in 1989, Russian forces retreated from Afghanistan – around the same time when Noor had decided to leave his home, country, and parents. After decade and half, USSR broke into several republics. However, Noor is still intact , with his daredevil spirit of adventure . He knows Dubai is not a place for him – he feels people in Dubai are not honest and genuine. He still doesn’t have a passport, visa nor driving licence but nothing stops him doing what he wants to. He has set his eyes on England and I know he will make it. He may not speak a word in English but knowing him, he would need just few weeks to master English language!!!


Blogger Atanu said...

Great story. Embellish it a bit, write it up as a novel and then sell the movie rights to Hollywood!

5:43 PM  

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