Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
In travelling, we meet and talk to many people. We tend to forget short routine conversations, but those that touch life we always remember.
My phone rang seconds after I called for a taxi.
“Hi, my name is Dariush (not his real name). Is this Jonan? I’m picking you up at The Hub, in front of Japan Mart,” the voice said on the other end.
“Yes, Dariush. This is Jonan. How far are you from our pickup point?”
“I’m three minutes away, Jonan. I will call you once I enter the Hub’s driveway.”
“That’s great! See you shortly, Dariush.”
Dariush was courteous and conversant as he helped me with the three pieces of luggage, averaging 25 Kg each. “It looks like you’re packed for a long holiday, Sir,” he commented.
“Yes, we are,” I replied, “it’s been many years since we travelled overseas as a family.” He helped me lift the last luggage into the boot.
Cruising through the Hub’s driveway towards the exit to Carmen Road, Dariush asked, “Where are you heading for holiday, Jonan, if you don’t mind my asking?”
Perhaps I was excited that I replied, “The Philippines” before he even finished asking.
“That’s a great place to escape our cold winter here,” Dariush said and showed a “happy-for-you” eyes. Despite his mask, I can sense a smile that matches his cheerful eyes.
“When was the last time you visited your home country?” he asked.
“It’s been a decade. We were supposed to go two years ago, but the lockdowns happened.”
“How about you, Dariush?” I asked. “From what country are you originally, and how long have you been here in New Zealand?” I thought it was my turn to ask.
“I’m from Afghanistan originally. I came to New Zealand four years ago, ” Dariush replied.
“Afghanistan… wow.” I paused. I don’t know what to say.
My first thought was to say sorry for what happened to his country, but my pastoral care training reminded me never to assume.
It seemed ages before I asked, “Is driving a taxi your main job, or you’re just earning extra this Sunday?”
“I’m working full-time. I own this car, which I affiliated with a taxi company,” Dariush replied.
“I have dreams, Jonan,” he continued, “I was a medical student for two years in Kabul, but then I quit as times were getting hard.” It was timely I was able to come to New Zealand.
“Why not pursue your dream now that you’re here?”
“My English isn’t that good. I don’t think I will be admitted,” Dariush said.
Before I could respond, he stopped his taxi. We have reached our destination. We unloaded our luggage.
As soon as Dariush closed the car boot, my wife handed him our fare.
“Thank you very much for your service, Dariush!” I shook his hand.
“My pleasure, Jonan. Have a safe trip and you all enjoy your holiday”
On the eve of our flight to the Philippines, I hardly slept because we need to be at the airport by 3:00 AM.
As I lay in bed to let the hours gone by, I thought about Dariush and his family, the uncertainties they are facing. I prayed for him and his family.
The eight-minute ride was so short. I wasn’t able to finish our conversation with a blessings. So, I sent him a text message.
Good morning, Dariush! Jonan, here. Thank you for picking us up yesterday and bringing us to our accommodation. Also, thank you for sharing about you and your family. I want to encourage you to continue and persevere to attain your life goals. You can make it, brother. God bless you and your family.
Hi Jonan. Thanks for your kind words. 🙏I’m trying my best to make it and to own a business. And again, I wish you a very safe journey ahead. Hope to see you again soon.