Sometimes ago in the hot and humid midsummer of Ottawa, I met a friend I had not seen for a while. He seemed frustrated and evidently upset.
I asked him if all was fine with him. It seemed that was all I needed to inquire about…
He exploded by saying the following:-
“You know,” he said, “My span of patience nowadays has suddenly become a lot thinner to have to continue assisting individuals that I feel may not be on the same wave length as I do in terms of thinking. They evidently insist to remain as acquaintances since they never will be friends to count on. They take advantage of you, and then they leave you high and dry. Our individual personalities have very little in common and certainly may not be comparable to serve effectively the common interest with the purpose of sustaining and justifying a continued friendship.
Let me tell you that the incidents that led to such conclusion have been bottling up in me for years. The following incidents are but a few examples that caused me much pain, and broke the camel’s back, so to speak:-
a) Allah knows that sometimes ago, I tried to assist a young lady, a student, whom I did not know before. She approached me, introduced herself and then confided in me that she had a dream to establish a home for the under privileged and the disabled in her native country. She asked if I could assist. At that time, I tried my very best to introduce this young lady to Canadian officials with potent political ties for a possible interjection of Canadian funds as financial assistance to such worthy human cause. Indeed, a meeting was convened within days from her request for assistance. I volunteered to prepare the minutes of that meeting. She brought her father along with her to attend the meeting. I knew very little about him at that time except that he was a man working in a foreign diplomatic mission. The other two members who attended that meeting were the Canadian official and I. It was obvious that our main mutual goal was to have the dream of the young lady come true and of course to assist in a cause which seemed at the time worthwhile and compassionate to get involved with.
Since the father announced that he had robust contact base in his country, he was therefore asked to provide certain basic information about his native country to reconfirm the exhibited claim for an apparent sturdy contact and high level links in his country. His daughter was going to coordinate with me thereafter, while our Canadian official would try to mobilize his links in Ottawa to initiate the thrust for the very basic wheel in motion for such an honourable cause or project. We were all thrilled and enthusiastic too. We certainly had high anticipations that this very basic assignment would provide the necessary seed for the relevant information required for the project to accelerate, a notch towards realism. However, to my dissatisfaction, nothing moved forward in spite of my daily follow up with the daughter and her father. That left me helpless and truly defenseless, I might add. The daughter and her father did not even acknowledge the receipt of the minutes of that meeting. While feeling burdened in keeping the project idea a live for a human cause, at the end of the day, unfortunately nothing moved efficiently forward. All the promises that the father offered and all the dreams that I would be a part of a charity project which might have provided us with God’s blessings and the apparent enthusiasm had all dissipated.
Time passed on and today, I was indirectly referred to the subject matter. I came to know that the project died, not because the father could not provide the initial information, as I always perceived it to be, which he had offered to provide at that meeting, but because of his belief that the demand for the required information was not possible for him to accomplish seemingly due to the personal challenges that he was facing at his diplomatic mission. We did not know that fact at all before today. Nor did the father have the courtesy to update us on the matter. In any case, his response impacted me negatively, as I expected a gentler response to my efforts and that of our Canadian contact or perhaps a thank you note or even an apology for the time spent and wasted plus the embarrassment caused in mobilizing sympathetic Canadian officials. I felt I received instead what I thought to be an unwelcomed brashness!
b) More recently, and for over two months, I had spent my days and most of my evenings devoted to an important legal matter to the father, (with whom friendship had developed and we established regular contacts between us thereafter). I found myself sucked into this matter deeper and deeper by each passing day. For months, I listened to all kinds of repeated horror stories and justifications of how he was harshly treated at work in his diplomatic mission. In the name of God, I was asked to assist in providing interpretations and translations in meetings with government officials and legal institutions. I never for once stopped him from his tedious repetitions of how he was badly treated by the others in the mission, especially by his Excellency, the ambassador. In fact, I sympathized with him and to this day I felt truly sorry for him and his family.
Today, I was explaining a comparable situation that happened to me too, and my new friend promptly stopped me and pointed out that he did not and would not want to talk about others and thereby lose what he termed as [god’s blessings.] That comment caused me to instantly stop. But, I thought to myself that my new friend forgot that I listened to him for weeks at ends while he was talking about others and while he was even cursing them and also praying and wishing that may Allah cripple, without ever healing them, all those who caused him misery at work. Obviously, he felt that his scenario was justified by TALKING ABOUT OTHERS!
c) In spite of my family’s and many other obligations, I always tried to accommodate his regular requests to accompany him to meetings with various levels of officials as well as provided many hours of personal time for interpretations and translations, invariably thrown at me at the last moment.
Today, I requested in advance that should we go to see one of the legal officials, I wished if he could stop me on the way back at a health store in order to pick up some items for a sick friend of mine. He accepted that request unconditionally to which I was grateful. However at the store, he pressured me to hurry up to finish, claiming that he was busy and would be receiving guests for dinner at his home. I did not appreciate that uncalled for pressure and I asked him to go home as I would arrange a ride back. However and thankfully he waited for me, perhaps sensing my hidden true feelings of utter frustration. My friend forgot that I served him diligently and regularly putting aside all kinds of numerous family, social and financial commitments and never ever pressured him to hurry up.
d) Giving advice to my friend is like pouring water into sand; nothing appears and every drop soon dries up. He always seemed to have an answer that stubbornly may or may not relate or serve the point at hand. Everything seemed to appear to him that he was as if in total control regardless of the actual facts that may surround the situation.
Today, I gave him a valuable advice to consider. He thought that he could handle any situation and would indeed be prepared for a good answer come what may! In the process, I was even accused that I failed to comprehend the content of the documents that I spent hours to prepare for him. Hence, I felt that enough is enough of such indulgence in life that would cause me unnecessary stress and inflict continued injury and pain. Gratification and appreciation apparently do not exist in my friend’s heart or daily dictionary!
In the past, I feared helping individuals lest I involuntarily lose track of one point or another and then become a target of unnecessary headaches thereafter. Nevertheless and somehow, I managed to fall into that trap again!
Many a time, my new friend was told by officials to follow a step by step procedural method to conclude an important document that he wished to submit to the authorities. At one point, I was on the receiving end of a frustrated official. My friend did not realize the gravity of the much pain that such incident had actually caused me or how upset I was. Nevertheless, and for his sake and his respected family members, I swallowed the bullet and hid my damaged pride and continued to assist him. Just few days back, I spent more than ten hours continuously to assist in preparing a narrative document that was necessary for him to submit to the authorities. Indeed, the text that I prepared was eventually endorsed by the officials with perhaps some minor legal amendments.
Today, we went to the legal officer in order to collect copies of all the documents that were submitted on behalf of my friend and all his family members to the authorities to jump the fence of diplomacy and become a resident in Canada. However, I wanted to review one of the documents at my own time and to read the recommended amendments made by the officer and to learn from them for future assignments. To my shock and amazement, my friend was conspicuously reluctant to do that for me. He asked instead if I could read quickly through the document which consisted of over 20 pages in just a
minute or two. I did not appreciate that nor did I feel that my friend trusted me to keep and review that document until the very next morning.
I was obviously at a loss as to accept and or ignore such behaviour from my new selfish and untrustworthy friend. Although I had sworn before that I would not get involved with others. But somehow, I fell into the trap again. Obviously, I did not learn yet from the experiences of life.
Therefore, proceeding further in this case with my friend would undoubtedly bring along a bad taste of lack of trust plus many other incidents that I could no longer stomach. However, since my heart and my religious obligations pushed me to walk on that path for the continued assistance in the first place, my twitching body muscles and my failing nerves nevertheless were painfully warning me to take it easy and to drop out all together from my friend’s life. I favoured that thought.
I sometimes ask myself if I am a sympathetic man BUT also a naive one too or a man that never learnt from his past experiences in life?! The answer hits me straight between the eyes: all of the above!
My friend added, ” I am therefore praying to Allah that He may forgive me and He may provide success to my friend and his honourable family members, especially his generous wife, to cause them to win their important Refugee Claimant Applications and to enjoy peace thereafter with or without my current direct or indirect assistance – Ameen
But one thing I now know for sure: I do not want to see him in my life again.”