Kamal. It has been nearly a year since our chance encounter last winter. It was a cold winter day at Raleigh-Durham International Airport when I met the man with kind eyes, nearly my own age, asking to help with our luggage. My husband had gone to get the car and though my older children were quite skilled in hauling suitcases, there was something that made me reconsider my initial no and seek him out for a yes.
Kamal. Originally from Egypt. A student at NC State in Engineering and at the time, awaiting the arrival of his wife after two long years. She was still in Egypt and alone for the birth and death of their first child, a son, born too early and Kamal could not go home. The thought of that would strike nearly anyone with a heart and I was not immune to the pulling of heartstrings. We kept in touch. I wrote a story and offered him leads for summer internships. And then, we seemingly parted ways.
Kamal. His face, I had looked for him since then, each time we made our way through baggage claim. I scanned the persons for those familiar eyes, but to no avail and I wondered. As I made my way down the escalator yesterday, there he was. He approached me and before I could even hug him, he laughingly smiled and asked if I needed help with my bags. What a moment of exclamation for us both and my children, I noticed, were casually unaware. The four of them not the least bit affected by the happy greeting between two souls that surely were an unlikely pair.
Kamal. His wife has now been in our country nearly nine months. She has taken two English classes and he will graduate in May with a 3.7 GPA. They are expecting a baby this spring. A daughter. Both lost their parents years ago and he longs for his sister to come to see him walk the stage and meet her niece. He fears for her safety in Egypt. Their two cousins were killed in the bombing of Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo. He has applied for she and her family to relocate here, but the wait is ten or twelve years. Why, we wonder together.
Kamal. I've been looking for you, my friend, he said. And I, you, I said.