I was at an insurance agency. I was preparing the documents for my visa. The check-list was almost entirely ticked, and the insurance was the last item. I’d saved the easiest one for the last, but things didn’t work out the way I’d expected. Neither the travel insurance, nor the visa, I ended up waiting for days stressfully. It will never be easy I guess, not as long as I hold this passport.
There were three other guys waiting in the room. It was a small store right by the parking space of the apartment. Although all the curtains were drawn, the room was full of sunlight. All the seats were occupied by those guys, and there was only one agent working. Later I found out that she owned the place and ran it all by herself. One of the guys stood up and offered me his seat. That was really kind, and I thanked him a million. Please, I said and pointed to the chair, I’m alright, you can keep your seat.
The agent was clicking and typing things on her computer. She seemed rather nervous, and was in a hurry to finish up her work; it seemed like it’d take a while. She was a pretty woman. Around mid-thirties, I estimated. She had tattoos on her arms and shoulders, and her makeup was quite strange. Beautiful, I’d say, she’d created a unique look. She asked for my ID number to open up a new file. Asked me where I was from, and where I was traveling to. She was really shocked when she found out I was a foreigner. “But your accent…” she was really shocked. And I’m supposed to be proud of this. This living situation has been complicated for a long time, I don’t know how to feel about my accent anymore.
She then brought another chair from the back, and I sat by the other wall of that small room. I could now see those guys’ faces. One of them seemed to be a foreigner–he had almond shaped eyes. Which country, I couldn’t tell for sure. The guy sitting next to him seemed to be local, so did the third guy who was sitting closer to the agent. He was wearing glasses, and had a yellow shirt on. I once had the same exact shirt, and had already given it away.
“Are you from Iran?” asked the guy who’d offered me his seat. Yes, I said. We were speaking the same language, our mother tongue, but with a completely different accent. I asked where he was from, although I’d figured by then which country. I just asked for the sake of the conversation. He said he was from Afganistan. His accent was pretty obvious, sweet, and absolutely adorable. Did he find my native accent cool too? I don’t think so! He had a friendly smile, and very gentle manners. I wanted to tell him how badly I wanted to visit his country. I’m sure nature is stunning, and I’d be blown away by their culture. They are fine and decent people, you know. Guess I have some kind of respect for them in a way. I mean, after what they’ve been through, all these wars and struggles over the years. We don’t live a life any better than them; middle-east provides low living standards overall. I wish I had the chance to chit-chat and speak with him, have a cup of tea or two, ask him about his country and listen to his accent more closely.
My eyes were caught up again by the brightness of the yellow shirt, and the red and blue logo of the marathon. I couldn’t keep it out of my mind. Did you run? I asked him. I had to. He was rather surprised by my question, and that I knew about this marathon. Yes, he said. I told him that I ran too, I attended the tour about two years ago. They’d given us a bag of promotional stuff as we registered. I still use the cloth bag, the wrist brace, super thin face towel and even the small bag for putting the towel in, but not the yellow shirt; I gave it away. Later, as I spoke a bit longer with him, I found out we’d ran along the same path at the same time. We were in the same crowd. What are the odds, I thought.