A friend left today.  This isn’t the first time that someone has been ‘asked to leave’ in something of a hurry. The ‘charge’ was ‘stamping on a copy of the Holy Qur’an’ which, even without material substantiation, is sufficient for some authorities to recommend deportation. Were it to be found to be true, such an action would be defamatory, provocative and blasphemous to Muslim eyes. The reality is, of course, that it was not and the story was fabricated in order to discredit. Westerners here are usually remarkably sensitive even about practices which they privately think are arcane and medieval, thus the injustice of such a course of action by the authorities is unconscionable. A man’s livelihood has been summarily removed, ironically citing ‘the law’ as a flabby, weak and morally reprehensible excuse. Justice is blind and also deaf here.
Expat life has a fragility about it, a pond-skating mentality that has at its heart that within a matter of hours, everything could change. For example, the roads are actively dangerous here and accident-watching is a spectator sport. Last night, I heard a grinding, tearing sound, tortured metal on asphalt. Looking out over the balcony, it looked as if a bus had been almost parked by the side of the road, with its front bumper caved in. Spectators were rushing to the scene, looking out of my field of view on the other side of the bus. Later, the bus moved away under its own power, revealing a upturned vehicle almost underneath it. It was as if the vehicle has been run over by a tank. There were almost certainly fatalities. There was a second accident on the way home today. A huge SUV, heavy and powerful, looked as if it had cannoned into a small minibus, shooting it like a pool ball a hundred feet across the highway and into a brick wall. Both vehicles were scrap metal, littering the road.
I thought about consequences. It was the time when people who had been out for dinner might be returning. Cars carrying young children in them who almost never use seatbelts. Much as the friend left with no conscious  thought that tomorrow would be materially different than today,  he found himself on a journey, leaving much behind. The unfortunates in the car also found themselves on a journey, but one of a very different kind.
Perhaps much of life is like waiting for a bus in the rain. In C S Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”, the bus to heaven shows up, often when those waiting at the bus stop least expect it.

One thought on “Consequences

  1. “Expat life has a fragility about it…” This is so true, MathMan. The ever present sense that one's foundation is neither stable nor reliable separates seemingly similar individuals into two groups – those who can tolerate the physical, emotional, and psychological ambiguity, and those who can't.
    I'm sorry to hear about your colleague. In three years I've not met a single expat who wasn't concerned with not running afoul of some arcane or medieval custom here. It is disturbing to most if not all of us that arbitrating justice and the truth remains firmly in the hands of those who cannot or will not think for themselves.


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