Meet Alam. He is from Bangladesh. He is almost 30 years old. He is a husband and a father to a little girl. He works in a shop to make a living. He has a weakness for action movies and wrestling. My dad hired him and brought him over to Maldives some years ago to look after my grandfather who was very sick with old age and has passed away now.
Maldivians have always hated Bangladeshis and treated them like they are born to be our slaves. Even when they make them to the dirty and hard work that Maldivians find too humiliating to do. -_- I was used to hearing things like, "If he is a Bangaalhi (Derogatory Maldivian term for Bangladeshis) he would be scum. They are thieving, useless perverts." In my life I have always tried not to discriminate or have generalized opinions about anyone different than me. I had always scoffed at these remarks. Surely people from Bangladesh can't be any different from any other people from anywhere else, can they? They are also human. Good and bad included.
Unfortunately after working in HR and having to deal and monitor a lot of Bangladeshis for awhile. I have to admit I was disappointed. Most of them had one or more undesirable characteristics. For instance greed, dishonesty or plain laziness. But then I tried to justify it by thinking about how they lack education and how they have to work so far from home to earn a couple of thousand bucks which can barely fulfill their need to look after their families.
But then I met Alam. He is like no Bangladeshi I've ever met. He is kind, loyal and principled. After my grandfather died, we still kept him with us as a housekeeper. He learned to cook and he always kept the house spotless. When he came he didn't know a word of dhivehi, so he just showed me his little photo album in which he kept his pictures of his wife and child. But now he can speak quite well. He never had any access to any education but whenever he see's dad fixing anything or mom cooking anything, he would study them hard eager to learn. And he did.
Whenever I got sick, he was the one who cared for me even when I didn't ask him to. He would bring me juice and urge me to go to a doctor. Whenever dad was fixing anything he would rush over to help even when he wasn't needed. Whenever He saw mom carrying anything heavy he would insist on carrying it for her. He is a good person without having any ulterior motive. I know this because there were months when dad couldn't afford to pay his salary on time. But he NEVER complained. He never slacked off. We never had to ask him to do anything. He did it all.
He is a gem of a person. He is also quite naive and easily trusts people. I worry about that, but it's probably the reason why he is so nice. My family has a lot of affection for him now. Even my cousins jokingly call him the best nanny ever. Because he takes care of everyone. He works so hard during the week and on Fridays he goes to Friday prayer. If he manages to save any money he never spends any on himself but buys cheap toys for his daughter , because that is what he can afford.
He is very shy, timid and and hates it when his picture is taken. I get the feeling that a lot of people pick on him. Whenever he see's me go out alone, he would get alarmed and ask whether I'm going out alone. He'd tell me to ask my boyfriend to come pick me. I'd always reassure him that I'm taking a taxi. He would warn me that Male' streets are dangerous and that I shouldn't be out alone. He treated me like I was his own little sister.
Since we couldn't afford to keep him anymore, he now works for my brother in Addu. He calls occasionally to see how I am. He would ask if I'm eating right, and ask how mom and dad is and even if my bf is doing well. He keeps in touch with mom and dad too. I recently visited Addu for a couple of days and went to see him in the room he stays in behind my brothers shop. He was so happy to see me. He said I had lost weight and needed to eat more. When he found out that I was coming he actually cooked in his little room. He made some chicken for me. Just because once I had said that it was the best thing he cooks. I had eaten before and was full so felt bad that I couldn't eat it. So he went off and bought a Milo for me. He knows I love Milo.
He called me the other day. He told me that I should talk my mom and dad into saving some money and opening a small business. He may not be the smartest person in the world but he worries about us.
So you see my dear Maldivians. Not all Bangladeshis are the same. Give them a chance first. They are people too. And then you might be as lucky as I was to have made such a good friend. I am not ashamed in the least to be associated with him or seen with him. In fact I would be proud. I only wish I could be even half as good as him.
Here's to you Alam.