Late Nov 1989.
I juggle / attempt a few more jobs in the meantime. They range from donating my sperm to working at a gas station to volunteering for a staircase case design study, in which "volunteers" were asked to fall down on it.
The last job that made me real mad was at a carpet showroom. It was bang opposite the Brookhaven Marta Station. Even though the job was to sell carpets, the owner once put me in a Pillory out on the street. I was tied, my head placed in between two logs of wood. By the time I realize, the whole story, it was too late.
In the medieval times, criminals were put in Pillories to get abuse and humiliated, before the punishments meted out to them.
There I was, standing with my hands and neck squeezed between two pieces of logs - in full public view - under the sun. Anger, and hurt visible in my eyes and pedestrians and those driving by looking at me with curiosity. I am calming myself by saying " This is Halal Rozi...Its ok - I can take it!"
But I could not... I leave that job the next day!
These days when we do workshop on entrepreneurship under my NGO " Threshold Initiators", we emphasize the need to be do business with ethics. That businessman, who put me in a Pillory as a marketing gimmick was not a good man... not an ethical one for sure!
Dec First week, 1989.
I receive a court summon asking me to appear for a "deportation hearing" at the INS building, downtown Atlanta.
Until now, I was hoping that the "system" after looking at my academic record, would let me off the hook. I will be forgiven for a lack of judgment or whatever. Now, my humiliating deportation to India is certain. I hear stories after stories of how people were taken straight from the courtroom to the airport. Deported.
The court hearing is still a month away. On the top of the summon they have written " Shahid SAYED V/S United States of America!", which means my personal rebellion has taken a new form now.
I have no choice but to fight and rebel against the country that I travel so far to.... a country I loved.
Dona and I have decided to not engage an attorney but show up ourselves at the court. Whatever free time I find from my jobs, is spend on researching the INS laws that I was charged with. I have decided to represent myself at the hearing.
Second week December 1989.
I get a call from the INS agent asking me to see him in his office. He has a proposal for me. I meet him. He is willing to drop all charges he says, "If I help him bust a drug dealer." He informs me how they will put “body armor” on me, "wire me" and provide me the address to show up as a customer for buying drugs. They will listen to the conversation and at some point of time; they will barge in and arrest everyone.
I will be a free man again!
Growing up in India, like most Urdu readers of my generation, I too wanted to be Ali Imran of Ibne Safi's detective novels. The problem was unlike Ali Imran 007, who enjoys a lot of "things" before he takes on the bad guys, I was suppose to deal with gangsters on the very first paragraph.
And there was no sign of Juliana Fitzwater as well...so I refuse!
Someone from the mosque makes me another offer: He can get me a Green card on an Agriculture worker visa, provided I am willing to take up a new name and new identity.
Loss of identity? I would rather go back to India than lose my name. I refuse!
And then comes the all time classic offer: Get married to an American girl on paper, and no one can throw me out.
First marriage, wrong reasons. No romance. I refuse!
I am sure, I can write a few books on " How to be flexible in life to achieve your goals"!!
Court date is upon me!
My first court appearance in any country....
Dona, compares me to Kevin Kostner character of " Dances with Volves", who was hounded by the Federal agents for no good reasons. All he wanted was a peaceful life of love and happiness...
I can live with that...