Luqman Shahzad inherited a poor financial background in 1986. He along with his brother and eight sisters would always wish for bread, not more but certainly no less than what the neighboring hounds of Alhajj Chowdary Sahib used to get daily; what to make a mention of their dairy and meat quota. The unfortunate boy, who sometimes wished to be born a pet dog to that next-door pious, was probably fourteen when he came to know that people eat three meals a day. His poverty affords ideal platform to any playwright to make a story, but not now.
He wanted to go abroad to earn better but his awful state of finances kept him away from every travel agent in Lalamusa. To his luck, good or bad; a single agent happened to be a slight acquaintance. It is certainly interesting how hard he tried to amass so small (or big) an amount and unlawfully managed to flee away to Greece in search of a better tomorrow. I am sure that this episode can at least provide a rough plot to Steven Spielberg to venture for more Oscars, but that’s again not my story here.
In Greece every morning Luqman would get up at 02:30 am, desperately attempting to join that fortunate merry-making group which usually remains awake by that time. Now riding a bicycle either sounds ‘funny’ in thirteenth year past the third millennium since the birth of Christ or at best ‘heroic’ only to those whom HEINZ labels as weight watchers; but for Mr Luqman it was cruel reality. He would ride his bicycle for one hour to reach a store in Athens where he would load oranges on his funny means of transportation. Selling them over the complete day would get him approximately 20 Euros a day which equals 6 cups of coffee in terms of local purchasing power. How Luqman managed to save money and send it back home for his sister to get married is undeniably remarkable and indeed warrants a mention but that again is afar my point.
On 16 Jan 2013, he unfortunately parked his bicycle in a manner that it blocked way for other motorcyclists. Two angry riders murdered him for this crime. The Police caught both of them a few hours later and they are not likely to see the light of the day again. How he was murdered in cold blood for just being an immigrant and how the speedy and dramatic police counteraction was undertaken, yet not qualify to be my topic.
What caused me to pick up my pen is something else. Even after the justice was apparently done according to local law, an Athenian Nikos Angelakis gets up out of nowhere. He writes to one of his friends in Luqman’s country and apologizes for being part of injustice. He deeply expresses his sorrow, embarrassment and shame over the incident. He mentions an old Greek adage, “Embrace responsibility. You, yourself alone should save the world” and then he asks his friend for a personal favour; to find the bereaved family and inquire about the marriage expenses of his sister.
Did anyone notice how the son of ancient Athenian democracy has taught us how not to dwell in past history, however marvellous it may be. How he practically demonstrated to the rest of the world that accepting one mistake with an open heart is better than presenting a million excuses. He taught us that explaining reasons of injustice to the aggrieved party is not always a better idea. He practically has tried to educate us about the duties of citizens towards immigrants, let alone other citizens. He taught us, not by lips but by his actions, that efforts should still be made to help the aggrieved party, even after the justice has been done. He taught us that colours of passport and skin do not matter. He taught us to feel for those who are living a wretched life and how to be their advocate.
Martin Luther King! Allow me to borrow your line. I have a dream. I wish that one day we will stop praising our history at the cost of our present. I wish we learn to accept our mistakes without making excuses. We develop similar or at least ‘some’ sense of citizenship in ourselves by treating fellow citizens with respect, irrespective of the religious brand they wear. We condemn atrocities before inquiring about religious or political tags of the actor. We learn that justice is an aid to compensate the loss, and not a substitute. We console the aggrieved party even after justice has been done. We start feeling for the wretched. We give a better world to our children.
I have a dream that one day my children will live in such a nation.