The one who didn’t leave

In 2014, at the Abu Dhabi airport, while waiting to board a connecting flight, I was picked for random security check and they took my passport and boarding pass convinced that I was carrying drugs. Nothing I said mattered, and I just had to wait for a senior official to arrive. It was chaos : a scene in the middle of the airport, someone told me not to say anything since they could cancel my ticket and arrest me. And even though my friends were there, and my parents waiting for me at the Delhi airport, it was at that moment I knew what it is to be alone.

Everyone had already boarded the flight, except one man : a stranger : much older than me, who stood there – sometimes asking me to calm down – through all of this. He boarded the flight after me.

He did not know me; I could be carrying drugs for all he knew. He could have left but he didn’t.

The stranger who did not leave. I will never forget.

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