Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Are You Watching Closely?

"We'll see you again, inshallah"

"I'm sure we will" I replied as I turned my T-card around for the last time. In a time not too long ago I might have got a little moist around the eyes. But Saudi and its experiences have hardened me somewhat. I've closed some doors around me which I will not open again. I've been warned the floodgates come unexpectedly and they're tough to stop once they come. But that's not today.

D and I talked on the drive back home. About nothing in particular. The new speed limits on the roads, the kababs at the new place downtown. "Five years have gone by real quick man." I told him as I parked the car and gave him the keys. "It's been five years?" His mouth opened like one of those colon-O smileys. "It hardly feels like two, chief."

"It feels like yesterday." I smiled as we hugged goodbye.

I handed over my passport to the customs officer. He looked at the picture on it, looked up at me. Turned to a page cluttered with older exit stamps and made his mark on one corner. "Ma salaama, habibi" he handed me back my passport and boarding pass. Go in peace, my friend.

It's not a place I've grown to love. It's probably not even a place I would yearn to come back to. But here, I have gained a little, lost a little, learnt a lot. Made some new friends, been forgotten by a few old buddies. Survived the red-brown sands and 52 degC. Eaten the most fattening meals of my life. Learnt to call a friend a brother. Seen some relationships last a lifetime, others not so much. The ride may leave you dizzy, it may leave you ecstatic. It may scare you to death, it may make you want to do something crazier. But the ride is the thing. As the brown city got smaller and smaller, it's neatly arranged streetlights fading to a mesh of criss-cross lines, a little part of me, I leave behind.