Malaysian airlines [Photo credit: Kenneth Awotwe Darko, Penang Island – Malaysia]
As I settled into my seat on that packed flight from Kuala Lumpur to Qatar, my thoughts swirled around the weight of my bulky luggage, too cumbersome to fit under the seat. I needed it close by; landing in Qatar without my bag was not an option.
The flight was unusually crowded for some reason. When I felt my bag nudging the passenger seated ahead of me, it served as my cue to gently recline in my seat. I fastened my seatbelt and, as I turned my head, was met with Hassan’s beaming smile. We hadn’t exchanged words yet, so I responded with an unprepared but sincere grin.
After takeoff, Hassan’s smile grew broader, and his eyes held a look as if he could see the sky through the airplane’s roof. I noticed because shortly thereafter, he tried to assist me in connecting my headphones to the plane’s entertainment system. At this point, I had been trying to mind my own business.
I finally turned to my right, and with a casual question, I had unintentionally triggered a heartfelt conversation. “Why do you look so excited?” I asked. That was all Hassan needed to open up.
It turns out Hassan had left his family in Yemen to pursue his education in Malaysia. He arrived in a foreign land with no acquaintances. His initial plan was to make the most of his first few months, hoping to establish himself in a country where he had no relatives.
He found solace in a small circle of friends, all foreign students like himself, and with some support from back home, they navigated life together. But barely a year into his stay, the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hassan revealed that he had never missed home as intensely as he did during that period. His lifelong dream had been to make his family proud, even if it meant leaving his homeland, Yemen, for the unfamiliar.
Yet here he was, counting down the days until he could return home. His studies were temporarily halted, he battled homesickness, and the constant stream of Covid-19 updates and death tolls online kept him up at night, worrying about his safety and that of his family.
Hassan yearned for a way to teleport back to Yemen; all he wanted was to reunite with his family. School no longer held the same significance for him. From the adjacent seat, I witnessed tears welling up in his eyes as he recounted his struggles. Any more details would have triggered the final blink that releases a tear.
But fate had something in store for Hassan. The plane we were on was his one-way ticket back home. He shared that his graduation in Malaysia was only a few weeks away, but he couldn’t wait for that milestone. Hassan had packed his bags and emptied his dorm room even before he completed his final exam.
So the plane on which we were that day was his one-way ticket to fulfilling his new dream. It shifted from simply wanting to improve his family’s circumstances to just seeing them alive and well.
I had never seen a happier man.
That wasn’t his initial plan, but life has a way of teaching us to appreciate the unexpected paths we tread. Dreams may change, but the determination to navigate the winding course of those changes can be profoundly rewarding.
I hope to meet Hassan again one day. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this experience has fortified his resilience even further.
My point basically is; It’s never too late to make you dream come true. If it’s not playing out like you intended, make room for changes. But stay committed, it is your one true fuel.
The author, Kenneth Awotwe Darko is a multimedia journalist from Ghana.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.
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