‘To love and to be loved’ – the mind of an average expatriate in the Gulf (Pravasi) will be teeming with it, always ready to deliver.
In the desert, they wait for a call, a mail or a message with no patience. They want to speak more; listen more. They want to hear the innocent words of their children back home.
When they go back home, they carry with them toys that make their children playful. While away, they want to play with them, wants to touch them, embrace them, but their hands are too far away. As an expatriate, one wants to enjoy those moments of love. But it is not possible for him for a long time. At least until the next vacation, often after an year or two.
Sometimes the hearts of the expatriates beat with desperate rhythm. A rhythm that is strange and painful as desert nights. One of my friends told me. “I miss my only kid a lot. This is the time she would play and speak a lot with full of childish vigor and innocence. After one year she would go to school and lose the freedom of childhood. The past days and enjoyable moments never come back.”
Those who have not yet come to the Gulf, dream it as something great, a place full of prosperity. To many people, Gulf jobs are their life’s dream. Dreams are often inflated.
In the beginning, Gulf life would be like a fish out of water. One loses all kinds of freedom. Later on, he would compromise and adjust to the system. He would study the disciplines just like nursery kids. His life is controlled by a fixed time table.
But those who came once are compelled to continue here for years. This is the mysterious or unwritten law of Gulf, according to another middle aged man who has been living in Gulf for the last 21 years. When you earn comparatively higher than you would back home, you would have no option to quit.
Your spouse may ask every time, “When are you coming?” even though she is quite worried about any duration – short or long. I have seen many expatriates who live solely for their family. Their happiness depends on their families’ well-being. They flame like a candle to brighten their families. Pravasis dream more about going home than about living. Back home everyone pray for their safe return.
When we meet our near and dear after a prolonged period, we feel excited, feel like being in heaven. But it is a very short lived vacation. As soon as you land, your countdown for return trip has also begun. The day of journey would come very soon. It is also a black day in the life of every expatriate – the day of going back again to that dull, empty life. But many expatriates have lived that black day again and again.
Our music, our language, everything we keep as our soul mates in this alien land. “Whenever I get spare time, I would listen to radio for sweet melodies of yesteryears. Whether you are romantic or not, some songs lead you to some unknown destination of delight” – another friend says. Expatriates dedicate a song or music to their beloved ones away, across the sea, though they can’t hear. What else can he do? Their life itself is a dedication, not just a dedication, but a big sacrifice that requires great patience, peace of mind, and ability to hope.
Literally, expatriates have renounced homely pleasure. But this doesn’t mean they have lost the affection or attachment. The affection has become stronger and turned to longing. An ocean of love confined within their heart. I can feel the sweet sorrow on the face of every expatriate. This is filled with deep love, he never used to experience before.
They express their love by sending money and gifts to dear ones. They give up all selfish motives by dreaming a good tomorrow. They often forget their health, and they know they do not have the luxury of thinking about their own happiness. I have seen hundreds of people work hard for long hours with a single focus of saving money. They do that more often for others life – such as a sisters marriage, a family home, than for their own future and well being.
As poets say, parting is a sweet sorrow, it is a killing pain that is sweet also. When desert nights become more cold and darker, when the cold wind penetrates your mind and body, the loneliness haunts you. You have realized a change, an emotional paralysis. Even if Pravasis endure as many tensions and pressures in their lives, they try to make seasonal celebrations memorable. They have celebrated all this with childlike enthusiasm. During every festival, each Pravasi dream for mother’s taste buds even if it is not possible.
Palm trees or dates or the vast sandbanks do not please them. But still Pravasi moves on, just like Santiago, the shepherd boy in “The Alchemist” who dreams of traveling the deserts in search of treasure.