Caravan of Mercy SSP Jan / Feb 2013 – Day 7

Last morning in Sirajgonj… the journey of departure is always upsetting… having to say good bye to people that you only have known for a short time but travelling together with a common cause brings us closer quickly

Breakfast is served…my brother would love the food..fruits all the time..fish and prawn all the time…today’s breakfast menu is fried eggs, boiled eggs..Amra fruit, Banana, Cauliflower veg dish, Daal veg dish, Pitta rice dish, Papaya fruit, some other fruit, biscuits, tea, yoghurt desert, water and I’m sure I’m forgetting something..They want us to leave on a full stomach..I just discovered Moulana Abdul’s wife has been cooking for us all this time including today’s breakfast…We thank him and his wife.. She must have been up early making all this and I just assumed it was all part of the madressa kitchen activity, the unseen efforts, the energy of the charity work delivered by the women…

…I hate long good byes..in fact I hate good byes all together…I prefer say nothing.. just leave….. It’s sad…. We are exchanging numbers with the locals….not sure why….having a friendly chat is not possible..I don’t speak the same language. Our good byes are completed. Moulana Zaharuddin, Moulana Aziz and Mamajee coming with us but all three of them plus the driver will return back from the border..

I’m still looking around and trying to imagine, left and right, all filled with water..so is Ronnie..his imagination described to me as the longest bridge ever…

In the caravan we talk about our experience of the past few days, I mention I still find it hard to believe, some part if me still believes that these guys have got together and telling us a made up story of floods..Moulana has seen it first hand….I need to come here in the raining season..i have seen the poor but not the yearly coupling struggles of being poor and flooded..I agree to coming here during the floods and doing this work…..next time it will be less road and more boat traveling for distribution….looking forward to it….tourist character is still in me…

Moulana tells some of his stories…when he was Kenya there was no rain for three years.. animals in the field just dried up…a person lost 300 cows thru water starvation…A 75 year old man said he has not seen anything like this in his life.. Moulana says don’t look at their health or clothes ..you don’t know what they are going through just by looking at them..you must stay here for one two months to taste their struggle…we talk about extremes of these places, too much water in one place and no water in another….moderation is important especially in our lives…..make sure I use just enough water..don’t waste….I’m getting better..I used one bucket for my bath today.. Little things that I must improve on in my general way of life….but at home I’m in the shower for ages just because it helps me think….an ignorant extravagance..just to think I’m wasting water because I enjoy warm over me whilst in kenya they don’t have water for their sustenance let alone using water to have a bath…

Moulaba says in ghana once he was handing out money as food was too difficult distribute due to the logistics at the time..he said one lady ran to the village and said hurry, there are people handing out money..go quick..I’m thinking that’s what I would do and almost forgetting to forgetting to try and realise the actual events…

Around 60km into our journey and Moulana tells me Caravan of Mercy have installed water pumps in villages around 20km in….We stop for some suger cane .. Even in the last hours; Moukana Zaharuddin caring character for kidmat is embodied in this one stop, on our last journey with us he gets out, runs, negotiates with the farmer, brings back the suger canes, cuts its and gives us suger cane strips…he won’t change for life..I will …I got it easy so I only do easy things for us and others… We must change..we need to accept we can be better..I need to stop comparing with people at the same as us or who have more than us but look at how we can be like someone better than us who has less than us especially in areas that directly involve the quran and sunnah. This will silently, unknowing to us, help the ummah…the sincerity and intention of any effort is effective through Allah’s will, he knows everything and with his mercy and blessing on the day of judgement he will (iA) reward us with rippling effect of any sincere intentions or good actions.

Ronnie and the rest are calculating our time spent travelling in the caravan…The total is approximately 48hours in the space of 7 days……we have grown closer…it’s the end of Bangladesh but the start of awareness, stories to tell, improvement..I hope I remember all this.. I don’t remember many journeys.. little bits here and there.. this journey had more memorable moments.. I need to keep it in me because I’m still too strong in world desires, there is too much world in me.. not enough of bangladesh floods has filled my heart..my banks are strong… I must break them and build it again with Islamic bricks…

I’m hoping this jouney last another 48 hours. This journey will be gone. Everything becomes the past…only experience left, lessons, we hope we can interprete, spread and remind mysef why I am lucky and fortunate… I live a kings life compared to people I have been in touch with… If I visited Banglasdesh on my own I would not have seen this life as I have no reason to go to these places and even if I did I would be at a shop buying something, a place where these poor people won’t be…Caravan of Mercy has contacts to survey villages to try identify the poorest among the poor…This journey has put me in touch with them for a little while…

Our caravan breaks down..i dont think it wants us to leave……it’s the age old common problem..the ‘dynamo’ has gone… the driver and the mechanic are trying to fix it..the rest of us are going the chemist for some tablet tea.. the.We are near the border, the signs that we are close to the border are apparent…the indian movie songs are on the TV at the tea station… more hindi speaking people…our temporary caravan has arrived… It’s a smaller one… Mamajee will need to stay behind…that’s too soon to say goodbye to him..i want that extra 20km journey with him…I’m gonna miss him..I started as his guest, he became our guest and host, he became a helper on this caravan of mercy project by the will of Allah., he became the media for caravan of mercy, he then took over the media….but most importantly he has made intention to go 3 days jamat when he gets back, Moulana tashkeeled him…… Tears begin to flow from his eyes as we say our byes.. We all gonna miss him…

We reach the border… strange feeling.. the border is a basically a big pillared gate… then it’s some 15 metre gap before the indian border gates which shares the same style…there are about 5 open borders between Bangladesh and India..It’s always scary, even though you have all the legal entitlements to stand where you are and enter India, the process, the atmosphere and people around make you feel you still are doing something dodgy and they will sort you out to get you through.. A local comes and becomes our agent between us and the immigration office right in front of us, we let him be and help us.. we want to leverage any advantage he may have to smoothen our crossing, before we know it we have 5 guys helping us filling in our immigration forms..… Strange feeling for me to be at the border.. a border separating similar or same people, the end of a country and start of another..a countries gate but i notice there is only a handful of people crossing either way since I have been here, about twenty minutes….i expected it to be busy,like the airport. Its just like the gates to governement gardens, people are having a look but no one is queuing up to get in….i have interesting and strange conversation with stranger…he may be a local, departing or new arrival , he approaches me and gestures a handshake so i respect the gesture..he then says “india”. So i stand waiting for the rest if his sentence , trying to create context and sense, may be he wants directions to india…im looking for the rest of the conversation, may be its written on his head somewhere..i cant find it so i respond back with “india”… He positiviely and negstively nods and walks away…..we are almost done and then its done and suddenly we are rushing, why are we rushing?..does the border have opening and closing times? Does our exit stamp expire?…i dont argue i just quack along, i dont want to be left here on my own, . We say our goodbyes to the moulanas staying..good this has to be a quick goodbye, no time to think..looking forward..making sure i dont get lost between the borders, take a wrong step and the whole indian border police misunderstands me and gives me any grief…..we are rushing carrying all our luggage…whilst crossing the space of 15 metres between the two borders, I take a moment to feel my foot on the ground and try understand my feelings, and imagine as much as i can…ive heared border control stories on the news.refugee stories has alway driven my imagination to what it would be like on the ground..this does not compare.i know….in between the gates i’m not in Bangladesh or In India, I’m neither here or there…I’m no longer departing or arriving ..This piece of land is the complete agreement that there are no agreements..reminds me of the something ronnie told me, burma rohingas stuck in a river border..shaikh hasina refuses them entry into bangladesh and burma has kicked them out..they are stuck in the sea …i prefer not know what happened to them…lucky I’m british…thank you allah fior providing a fortunate life and easy tests….i continue to imagine; If charity was land, then this place represents the amount of charity between people and countries compared to the vast land of the country….I have arrived in india, 2mins to cross a country and the rules have changed.. I leave Bangladesh with an experience and tourist filled two words…’Unbelivably true’; the place, the floods, the people, the suffering, the poverty, the hospitality all unbelievably true… Im in India,..a local comes and guides us to the immigration office.. same thing, different country.. trying to make some money…we again leverage his knowledge to smoothen the process of our arrival…

There are Ambassador cars, Mahindra cars.. We catch a cab (Mahindra Scorpion) to Kolkotta, smooth ride, we notice the trees just seem so much fatter, older.. We stop at a masjid for namaz…A local person at the mosque greets us and places his hands together.. mixed traditions

We have to drive thru kolkatta..is calcutta the same pkace as kolkatta..not sure..it has taken us over 3 hours just to get through the traffice of Kolkatta… I hate the traffic.. cars don’t move but the horns keep going..it feels like the horn inside at the back of head…i need a tablet tea..

surprised of the length and route …we travel thru long and poor roads..my lower back is hurting .. Make me think there people are all over the world and living out their lives unable to reach out…..the poor can’t reach out to us, we need to find them… We reach Lalpur 6 hours after the border crossing, misbahul uloom education and welfare trust, It’s a boarding school, kids all looking out of the communal balcony.. they greet us.. make us feel famous…celebrity status…

We find our beds and we are all knocked out sleeping in no time. Tomorrow is handing out blankets, Transport cycles, Cows and Sewing machines…need a day off..

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