The Immigration Officer at Delhi

Couple of years back, an immigration officer at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport asked me what I did in Dubai. I replied, “Nothing. I’m just a housewife”. He looked me in my eyes and told me something which would bring me to tears had we not been at the immigration gate. He told me never to think that I do nothing and that I do a lot more. I smiled at him and thanked him from my heart. The journey back here is always a difficult one for me. Even before I leave home, I’m already missing everything – Family , air, water, food, even those days when it had been continuously raining for days and you just wish it would stop for a minute but it doesn’t. The thought of the days and months ahead, the heat, the dust and the sand, the loneliness and the feeling of health waning adds to my misery. That time had been no different but it got easier because of that man.

I thought about that officer long after and I still think about him. As I waited to board my flight that day, I made up stories of him in my mind. His mother was probably a homemaker and he was close to her. His wife was also a homemaker and I thought she was a fortunate woman to have a husband who valued her sacrifices. I also thought of the possibility of him being the type of person who tends to be more understanding to other people than those who are actually important to him. He would have told his wife about our conversation over dinner and his wife would have wished under her breath for him to say the same words to her. An Indian man recognizing his wife’s household tasks seemed odd. I was basically stereotyping and it was very narrow-minded of me to have made those stories even if it was to myself. Anyway, whatever background he was from and whatever kind of person he was, he had helped me.

He had not said something that had not been said to me before, but it struck me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if the whole world is yelling the same thing to us. That man saying the same thing at that moment was so loud and clear. He made me realize that I was doing ok in what I was supposed to be doing for others: as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as an aunt and as a friend. But I can’t admit that I’ve realized my self-worth and that I am contended with myself. The truth is that I’m still trying to figure out the person I want myself to be: one that I can validate and be proud of. Pats on the back, hugs or millions of words of praises and appreciation cannot match a simple nod I give to myself. I consider myself that important (to myself) because I can never lie to myself. Maybe I am supposed to be doing exactly what I’m doing now and I just need to accept it and live happier. Only time will tell.


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