This was while I lived in Atlanta in the state of Georgia for a 2 months internship. So many times I traveled by the public transport, mostly cabs. The best thing about travelling by cab is the interaction, the variety of people you get to meet, the stories you get to hear. Here is one such story of a cab driver Javed. It was almost 5 p.m and I called for a cab. I got all the details of the driver and his car as well as photos for both which can help me recognize my ride. The car stopped at the doorstep and the door opened up for me and I got in to begin the 15 minutes journey home.
I got in to see a really handsome face. He must have been in his early twenties. Tall, fair, dressed in a plain white shirt with a crew cut on his head, he seemed very decent. Javed started small talk, asking about my work, how was I liking it in the city, etc. I told him it had just been an year that I had come to the States. At that he smiled and said with relief,”Oh, so you have been here for as long as I have!” It seemed comforting to him to meet someone who was as new to the culture, the people, the situation in this country as him. We instantly struck a chord. Then it was my turn to speak up and avoid awkward silence. From his looks, his name and his accent I had figured he was an Asian, so I asked him when had he arrived in the States. And there began the story which in a way was impressive but later on put me in two states of mind. Javed said to me “I’m from Afghanistan. I served in the US army in Afghanistan
and after a period of few years they sent me here with a Green Card and plus all my expenses were taken care of for the first 6 months.”
And my mind went into a medley of questions and confusion. It was too much to take in and absorb. We all have heard about war and seen the footage on TV. In my entire life I had not met anyone who had fought at the war front. I had so many questions but how do I ask? What if I offend this guy? And Javed read my face and started with his story. “I had the choice of going for war or against it. They tell us all about the USA and the benefits of serving them. For a person who lives in the constant fear of getting home alive, a comfortable life in the Worlds greatest country is very enticing. So I chose sides and I guess since I’m here alive I chose wisely.” I had my plethora of questions ready. I asked him bountiful of questions and he had to reconfirm how he got here exactly. Talking more about himself he told me he has a brother who is currently doing his under-graduation in India. And that was it. I thought to myself “Is this guy fooling around with me? Has he done some background check on me?” For my immediate response was “What the hell!!! I’m from the same city as well. Infact, I just visited home and came to Atlanta directly about 2 weeks back.” He was happy. He told me about how his brother likes the city and the education system out there, he plans on applying to Oxford for further education. Javed has his parents still back in Afghanistan. He came here a year back and was given a job in San Diego along with the most sought after luxury of USA, the Green Card. But California being an expensive place he shifted to Atlanta for an affordable life. He drives the cab for few days of the week and has himself enrolled for economics in a local college of the city. He not only supports himself but also his family. After 2 more years he can apply for an American passport and he plans to get his parents here after getting it done. When asked if he was ever at the war front, he told all about his experiences in the army. That expression of astonishment never left my face.
We think we go at war everyday while living away from our family. It was amazing to see a guy that young to have been through so much in life including extremes like war. Life is not about you, your friends, how much you party, how many likes your photos get or how famous you get. Thoughts of Javed and his life have been trotting my mind for past few days. He has helped me achieve a better perspective on life. Life is about being a hero, in any smallest way possible. Being a true hero to a nation, to a town, to a family and in the least to yourself.