The story of the half lame refugee who became an author.
This is the rather brief life story of a guy who was born in the tiny, oil-rich country of Kuwait, more than 3 decades ago.
This is the rather brief life story of a guy who was born in the tiny, oil-rich country of Kuwait, second child to working-class immigrant parents — a machine operator at a steel plant, and a nurse, more than 3 decades ago.
At the age of 9, he took flight along with his parents, two siblings and a few bags of old clothes and trinkets, when a certain infamous Iraqi dictator-president, who was later hanged for his war crimes (during the time of America’s most intellectually challenged president ever), bombed and invaded the teeny-weeny country he lived in. After that rather adventurous trip in which he recounts living in a refugee camp for three weeks in the middle of a scorching desert called no-man’s-land located somewhere between Jordan and Iraq, sleeping inside canvas tents into which a desert scorpion or two made a periodic visit, and standing in long queues outside the Red Cross trucks that came everyday to distribute rations, he returned to native village in India — his real homeland.
Amid all the changes that followed, a year and half later he encountered a pathological fracture and underwent a major orthopedic surgery during which a graft was done on his left thigh bone. He spent the next two and half months lying on bed, counting the lizards on the ceiling (when not watching the idiot box’s only channel then available in his country) or reading a book, while immobilised in a body cast that extended all the way from his chest to his feet with only essential gaps for satisfying his biological needs. When he was back on his feet again, his doctors shocked him by saying he’d never be able to walk like normal kids again — he did hobble around for a few years with one short leg, wearing specially modified shoes. He eventually turned out rather fine almost 2 decades later, by when he became a regular long distance recreational runner — “don’t you bloody dare tell me I can’t run”, he told all those naysayers then.
In the years in between, he had a few forgettable years at school but spent a very ‘memorable’ four years studying in a college, a significant distance from home, that was better known for the enviable street fighting skills of its students rather than its academic prowess. He graduated with an Engineering degree, a lot more wisdom and a bit more common sense (that wasn’t that common previously) and a right shoulder that occasionally dislocated itself, much to the shock of unsuspecting bystanders.
At the age of 23, he found a very agreeable software company that put him in a travelling engineer’s role and while it gave him a chance to get into verbal contests with foreign clients who spoke English with rather unique accents; that job also gave him a chance to spend a few months wandering around in such rather interesting cities such as Dhaka, Bangkok and Lagos, try some exotic food (fried grasshoppers anybody?) and engage in banter with some of the friendly locals. Finally, when he decided that he wanted to feel the taste of a fancy world-class university (where street-fighting skills were not a hidden pre-requisite for entry), he quit his job, broke that piggy-bank of life savings, borrowed from a bank, packed his bags and went to that country of people famous for their stiff upper lips and spent a year pursuing an MBA degree. And while he was there, he spent some time singing songs and strumming a guitar on the campus lakeside and entertained some very enthusiastic, musically-inclined mallards and geese, and occasionally, a few drunken human beings too.
A year and half later, when the xenophobic British government stopped issuing work permits (to stop immigrant students from staying back with the evil intention of working in Subway and McDonalds outlets and snatching local jobs), he once again packed his bags and returned to India.
Not wanting to give the impression of being a penniless, jobless 30-something MBA graduate sunk in loans, he spent a few months as a part time academic writer who earned his daily bread by writing assignments for select Persian, post graduate students in the UK, who in turn, paid him generously for the ’B’ grades he got them for their academic assignments, with less than a week’s preparation — a feat they couldn’t manage to achieve over an entire term.
Eventually, realising that the deposits from the Persians were not sufficient to pay his debts and that he was in danger of seeing his bank sending a few six feet tall, unshaven, overweight recovery-agents to recover the money he had borrowed, he hopped on board a big IT company that promised him some ‘challenging work’ .
Before he knew it, he landed in the South Eastern African country of Uganda for doing that ‘challenging work’ and stayed there for 9 months before packing his bags again (he uses a sturdy ‘Samsonite’, in case you are wondering — lasts really long)
Finally in 2014 July, when he was back to a routine 9–6 job in that lovely city he calls home a.k.a India’s IT capital, he thought, “why not write a book taking inspiration from all my experiences over the years?”
And he wrote it.
He named the book, ‘Kaleidoscopic Lives — Ensemble Narratives of the Common Man’