Departure amid farewell hugs and kisses mingling with tears in eyes and reluctant smile on lips have really set an indelible impression in my heart. The faces of those who lovingly waved their melancholy hands still dance before my eyes and hope they will always be vivid and evergreen in my memory to the time eternity. Anyway, golden rule of life is to meet and depart yet there is faint hope for human beings to meet again in some point of their lives.
Seeking an outlet to nearly two -decade long pathetic and confined camp dwelling, we heavy heartedly waved the camps finally on 8th August at 7:5 am local time. Undergoing strict security checks at civil aviation office in Chandragadhi, Jhapa, we embarked Yeti airlines (9N-AHV) at 12:35 PM which landed us in Tribhuwan international airport (Kathmandu) after 45 min i.e. at 1:20pm where we were cordially received by IOM officials. After that we were taken to IOM transit camp located at Bans Bari in Kathmandu where we were confined within its premises for 3 days prohibiting outside mobility owing to security cause.
On 11th august at 8:15pm after having undergone strict checks at TIA aviation office, we boarded Qatar airways thanking Nepali hearts for generously hosting us for nearly a couple of decade. The sun was drawing a deep red wound across the eastern horizon and the last stars in the sky were beginning to make their absence known in the brightening sky when we first landed Asian soil outside Nepal possibly for the last time at Qatar international airport after the long exhilarating flight of 4hours 40 min.
The moment I thought of thanking the repressive Druk oligarchy, the so called the ” The last Shangri-La” for at least not budging to repatriate its genuine citizens that ultimately paved the way for theirs being US citizen, we embarked Qatar airlines which left for Paris, the capital of France after 2-hour stay in QIA. The mind-numbing flight from Qatar lasted for 8hrs 10 min when we landed a beautiful and giant international airport in Paris. We impatiently waited continental airways for 1 hrs 45 min that would land us to our succeeding final destination i.e. Newark Liberty International Airport (port of entry). After arriving at US custom and border protection office within NLIA, we underwent awfully tight security screenings. There after we were forwarded to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where our biometrics were taken. We were asked to submit all reliable and authentic documents (IOM bag) for the necessary legal procedings. Having strictly checked us and our legal papers inspected thoroughly, DHS authorized our admission in the US as refugees for an indefinite period. There, we were granted a paper document called I-94, a legal refugee visa for the admission in the USA that permits us to live and work legally here. At this point of time, Prakash Manandhar, who escorted us all the way from Kathmandu to Newark, left handing us over to IOM officials.
Accompanied by 35 long-suppressed refugees up to NLIA, we were feeling homely till our arrival in the USA. But when they gave the last wave inside NLIA and headed towards their final destination our hearts pounded with greater magnitude of nostalgia and tears trickled down our cheeks that added a brick to reach the climax of mental distress.
After having all our belongings checked, we restlessly waited to quit NLIA for our destination that was yet to come. After our long passive stay we finally boarded continental airways at 8:15 pm New York time that departed after 30 min landing us in hot but golden city phoenix after an approximate flight of 6 hours and 10 minutes where pretty Mellissa, our case manager was there to receive us hand to hand. Then she left us to our apartment located at the Pines of Camelback 4802 north 19th avenue, apartment no B249 possibly at 1:30 pm mountain time.
This was a very first and the longest journey I have ever taken in my life. It was a journey from the eastern horizen to western; it was a journey with uncertain destiny; it was a journey in search of an identity; it was a journey before which I sadly waved all those who loved me more than themselves. I unknowingly missed all those who always went that extra mile to inspire and encourage me. They made me want to try harder; they made me want to succeed. They made me believe in me. For this and so much I wish you all the best of luck. May warm spring time memories fill you through and through inspiring you to seek your dream anew…..
(The writer is a resettled Bhutanese refugee in Arizona, USA)