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“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”- Chekhov

I tested this quote in real life today and came out with flying colors…

Date:14 Sep 2010
Time: 8:15 AM
Place :Outside the US Consulate, Toronto.

A strange unscripted drama unfolds.
I had an appointment with the US Consulate to get a visa for attending a “Connect for Health” Conference, New York, next week.I was late for the appointment by 15 minutes (5 minutes over the time limit), due to an accident on the Expressway which had blocked it. I was sure I will be refused the entry because of being a late comer.
I gave a deliberate and fake angel smile at the blue uniformed lady at the gate saying,” I’m sorry I am late because…”

The masked face lady interrupted me and asked back,”Do you have any food, drinks, camera , cellphones or any other electronic devices?”
“No, none of these but….. I have this iPhone.” I said. The’ mask faced’ changed into a Cruela Devil. She retorted, “You are already late. You have two minutes to give this away and get inside. We donot keep them with us nor do we allow it to be placed within the premises.” The car was parked two blocks away, so going upto it wasn’t an option.
Suddenly this prized possession turned heavy and cursed. I had just a couple of minutes to decide its fate,or else I miss- my appointment, the visa and hence, the terrific Conference where I have to make a presentation of my decade long work. I had to choose and then act in the next TWO minutes.

I looked around to see if any saviour would come forward and volunteer, to hold my cell phone till I return back.All those onlookers who were watching my drama changed their gaze when I looked at them—as if they didnt know what was going on.
Half a minute had passed in my watch and as if the seconds’ hand was trying to beat the 100 metres world record of Usain Bolt, right then.

I saw two angels descending down from the horizon across the road. I knew they were God sent and one of them will envelope my divine iPhone in his wings.
The first one was a young lady rushing towards her office perhaps.I jumped at her and requested her to keep my cell phone till I’m done from inside.She gave me a wierd look and angled herself away from the potential exploding device in my hand.She walked away quietly not even bothering to say a big “NO”..Not her fault. I fit into the profile of a suspicious person by virtue of my skin color.Without uttering a word,she spoke of volumes of her distrust on me and my iPhone. I felt really helpless for not being trusted.

I knew I will miserably fail in my efforts today, but I didnt want to give up without trying. My presentation and a decade of work behind it was at stake .It was dramatic, it was embarrassing but I chose to do away with all those senses for just these two minutes of my life.

A few seconds later, I stopped a man , probably in his early thirties and repeated my request to him.He took his hand forward and grabbed the phone without a second look or a second word.I just threw the iPhone into his hand and jumped accross the road saying ‘thank you’ half way accross the road .He waved at me to take his cell number but I pretended as if I hadnt heard, and rushed into the gate before they got closed on my face.At the doorstep, I made sure that when the lady in blue uniform looks into my face, I will give her a scornful look. And, yes, I did give her one. She was unmoved and was probably immune to such looks day in and day out.

I realised how painful this device was, which was faking itself as a blessing to me for the past one year.I was feeling light. But the materialistic in me was calculating how much will I lose if I never get this thing back and if the fellow disappears from the scene. Why would he take this iphone so willingly without even a question?
I took me about a couple of hours inside the consulate to fulfill all the requirements of document check, finger printing, interview etc. Because of the invitation letter, the whole ordeal was a smooth sailing. I still did not regret handing over my iPhone to a random man on the street.

At 10:30 am I was told that the passport would arrive at my house by the weekend,stamped with the visa.I felt I had won a medal at the steeple chase race.I walked out triumphant from the gates.On the road I looked around as if he would be standing for the past 2 and a half hours,dying to give back my iPhone. He was nowhere to be seen. I knew what I had done.What will I tell my folks at home—did I drop it somewhere? I certainly won’t let them know of my foolish act—I will fake it, that I dropped it. Or may be I will tell the truth so that everyone learns a lesson at my cost.

Half sure, I decided to call on my own cell phone number from the public booth.The bell was ringing. Will he pick it up, will he…? Before I could think of anything else ,he answered and asked,“‘Did u get your job done ma’am.Wait I am three blocks away from the Consulate and will come down to you in ten minutes”. His words were music to my ears. I had never felt so releived in my entire life. A while later I saw a man coming from across the street. I wasnt even sure if he was the same person. I hadnt even looked at him well enough to recognise him two hours later. He handed over my phone, and smiled.I thanked him in the politest possible way I could, and he simply shrugged his shoulders,”No big deal lady”. An epitome of dignity he was. “I have to get back to my office”. He turned never to look back again.
I did not have the strength to ask him of his name,or anything else.I couldnt even say a thank you with my mouth full open.I was overwhelmed.

I still do not know who he was, what his nationality or his faith was . I do not even have either his cell number to call him and say thanks , or his name to add him on FB. He just came and went back like an angel. He was a human being. Yes, it’s human beings who turn into angels when they help others in need or transform into a satan when in greed.
How right was Abraham Lincoln when he said, “The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust”.

In every man resides an angel and a satan.
It is upto us to chose which one we ought to awaken.
We need to awaken the angels from within.
Let the Satan in us die a premature death.
Is it worth putting our i phones at risk?
I am not sure. But, yes, I did so.
I got back not only my iPhone,
but also, a huge trust in the the humaneness of us human beings.
It was worth a try.
You try it too, sometime….

14 September 2010.
(P.S. Whether I get the visa in time and can make it to the Conference seems a trivial matter now!)



Frances Faulkner's picture


Your story reminds me that many times miracles come with the taking of a risk, or an act of bravery. Those moments seem to be some of the best human times, when we do things that re-teach us about our own abilities to connect and give back. I love the Checkhov quote you opened with - I think I"ll write that down and put it on my bulletin board right now!

Thanks, Frances

amymorros's picture

Compelling Story

You took a risk to trust a complete stranger and it worked!
I find that most people want to do the right thing and that they too benefit from a good deed. One act of kindness a day can spread to others and make the world a better place.
In this age of so much focus on the individual and the loss of community, it is comforting to know of your experience. Thanks for sharing,


IlmanaFasih's picture

Thank you, Amy, for your

Thank you, Amy, for your comments. It was indeed a life changing experience to me, indeed.

KariScherling's picture

great thought

after reading this piece, I was left with the thought that miracles are in the making all around us, but it takes the extremely brave or the extremely desperate amoung us to welcome them. a whole new way to relate to the world around us.This story spoke to me! thank you for sharing this great thought.

curvesalish2's picture

A reawakening

Your story reminds me of how we don't need words or languages to communicate. From your interaction with the guard to your exchanges with the stranger, I think about how we say so much when we say nothing. Whether we choose judgment or acceptance, the result is the same. Through your acceptance of leaving your phone (despite the judgment of onlookers), you were graced with your miracle (the return of the phone to you and your family).
Thank you for your story.

kati.mayfield's picture

not giving up

Dear Ilmana,

Among the many powerful elements in your story, I find one detail particularly provoking: You did not give up.

First, you decided that you did not have to choose between your "divine" IPhone [I am also quite attached to mine;)], and your opportunity to get your visa. You found a way to keep them both

Second, your faith in other people that day remained strong from the beginning. Even though the Cruella Devil security woman had no empathy for you, and even after the woman on the street turned away from your pleas for help. You kept looking for someone to trust, and you found him.

Your writing is full of drama and flair, so fun to read!


*resolved this year to think twice and to smile twice before doing anything*

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