He had come to the United States on a visitor’s visa. But he could never explain just how he managed to convince the consular officer that he was not planning to stay on.
Onto this day, he feels that it was divine intervention. The Gods had smiled on him and softened the heart of the interviewing officer. This was the only way he could explain the non-immigrant visa that he had been granted.
When he entered the embassy on that fateful morning, he did not believe that he had any chance of obtaining a visitor’s visa. He was simply trying his luck. He was playing a game of chance. He felt that he at least needed to try, so as to escape the misery that his life had become.
He saw no future in Guyana. In those days there were lines everywhere. If you wanted anything you needed connections. He had none. He came from a family without prestige or reputation. He was not well off. He held no fancy title, and his education was limited. But he had some skills. His hands had always allowed him to provide for himself and buy enough rum to drunk himself on weekends.
It was a life of nothingness. He wanted to escape. He took a chance one day and applied for a visa. He was called for an interview, but he did not expect a visa.
He turned up early for the interview. Many others like him had the same idea. And so he found himself at the back of a long line. He had dressed in his best clothes, but looking at the attire of the others in the line that morning, he felt as if he wore rags. But his friend had advised him, “Dress your best and you have a chance”.
He had bought a new pair of shoes for the interview. He was sorry now. They were tight. His feet felt sore. Every step aggravated the situation. He tried to drag his feet as he stepped forward in the line.
After what seemed like an eternity his turn came. His palms were damp and beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. He forgot some of the answers he had rehearsed.
The questions flew at him. After a while, he just said the first thing that came to his mind. He was in a daze and just wanted to get home. He was asked to return. He asked why. “For your visa!” answered the interviewing officer. He almost dropped dead.
He was still in a daze when he left the embassy. The next thing he knew was that he was wandering around the city, still confused that he had succeeded. Just then the sun emerged from behind a cloud. He knew it! This was a sign! The Gods had ordained a new future for him. His life was not in his hands. Destiny had taken its course.
There was great rejoicing when he went home with his immigrant visa. It was a great joy. The celebrations began. The neighbours thought he had won the lottery. He had won something greater – a rare chance to start his life anew.
The elation lasted throughout the journey to his new home. He was greeted by his relatives in the United States like a conquering hero, with everyone reminding him how lucky he was to be in the land of opportunity.
When he was asked where he would like to visit, he quickly said the Statue of Liberty. His relatives quickly changed the conversation. Few of them had ever gone there, and most of them considered it a waste of precious money to take him somewhere they themselves had never gone.
It took him four months to land a job and then another four years before he could rent an apartment on his own. Four more years before he met a partner, and another four years before he married. It was a quiet thing. Not like back home where he would have been unable to do such things without a fete.
The life he dreamed of was slipping away. He now had responsibilities. Then he lost his job, then his home, and later his family.
He was starting over again. Many times he thought of returning home. But the shame was too much. To go back without anything to show would be a harsher truth to face than his present predicament. He preferred to pine away.
He shooed away from his countrymen, he stayed away from social events. He became reclusive.
One day, just by chance, he was passing a park when a little boy ran out onto the road into the path of a car. He managed to pluck the boy away from the approaching vehicle. He did not know how he did it. He again felt that the Gods had come to his aid.
The child’s parents were grateful. They did not stop thanking him. He felt like a real-life hero and was so warmed by their affections that he felt he had won new friends. He asked them about themselves.
As it turned out, they were rich, very rich. They owned a business and employed hundreds of persons. He mentioned that he was down on his luck and had been out of work for some time.
The child’s father gave him a card and told him to see him the next day. As the father left the park, he added, “Come prepared to work!”
He thought to himself that this was another turning point in his life. Lady Luck had smiled on him. The next day he turned up dressed in jacket and tie and his best trousers, ready to climb the corporate ladder. He felt that having saved the life of the boss’ son, he would be given a senior position.
He was given a spade and told that henceforth he would be responsible for shoveling snow. He took the job.
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Do not open the newspapers of Guyana if you are depressed about the type of caricatured, deformed, shambolic, effete, irrational... more
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