|28 The Pigeons In Our
LivesI sent my family back to the Philippines.
My family and I initially felt bad at the
thought of abandoning the Holy Places in Makkah and Madina. They were like roots that had
grown intertwined to our aortas and capillaries over the years. We always relished
traveling to the holy places for a more solemn ritual worship and closer communion with a
peace that is both domesticated and wild like the pigeons. My children, especially my son
Ahmad, enjoyed so much chasing playfully after the doves in the cool pavements around the
Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madina, much more than they enjoyed feeding the doves in
Trafalgar Square or scaring away the flamingos at the San Diego Zoo.
When I was my sons age, I chased the
early dawn pigeons cooing at the breezy pier of Jolo. Somehow, the pigeons of Makkah
always remind me of that childs harbor. It was a harbor that could not be destroyed
even by the titanic sight of naval boats that took me away from my pigeons forever.
My children, having hardly known the
Philippines up to this point, would have been very happy to have their own pigeons to play
with in Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudis are so protective about the Kingdom, and for
good reasons as any nation will tell you, that it would probably take a massive climatic
and geological change before there can be any remote chance for another great caliphate to
rise up again from the ashes of nationalism.
My family and I stay in Jeddah for over
ten years, contributing to the growth of the Saudi economy both at the workplace and the
supermarket malls, and when my residence permit is renewed, it is no different from the
iqama of an expatriate who had just entered the Kingdom on his first month.
I always thought that the American
immigration policy was one of the stronger factors that propelled the United States to its
world power leadership, notwithstanding the hypothesis of that jerky movie, The Second
American Civil War.
But do not get me wrong here. I bear no
grudge against anybody. In fact, I have all the gratitude and good thoughts about Saudi
Arabia, her people and her ways, where I continue to reside because I do not want my
company to feel that I am running off just when things get Y2K-critical. This is the least
I can do for the company and the nation which had offered me so much in life over the last
The Filipinos I meet in Jeddah who grumble
about their lot in Jeddah should grumble in Manila.
"And what about the school? You
abandoned it at its most critical hours" some of my family friends here whose
children are still sweating it out in the NIPSJ, would chaff me on a lazy weekend when
they would invite me over for lunch.
PSJ or PESJ or IPSJ or NIPSJ will always
be critical. Education always is and will always be.
I have contributed and took my share of
her criticality. I have alternately stretched high to the glories and laurels of
leadership and have bent so low as to face-off with all kinds of characters, gentle and
not so gentle men, some old enough to be my father, weak and loud ladies, some old enough
to be my mother. I lost some, I won some. I still think I always fought for the right
issues, never missing a heartbeat, even when I was not always in the company of, or doing
the bidding of, righteous people.
I certainly have evolved, which is what I
am meant to do.