In this piece, Rahad Abir captures an immigrant’s life and its challenges to showcase the real struggle of relocating to a new country in search of better prospects decades later.
He had an Islamic beard. He prayed, seemingly, five times a day. His phone alarm was set to the ringtone of Azan (Islamic call for prayer) when there was prayer time. He was a thirty-something guy from Bangladesh and had been living abroad for almost half his life. I met him at a grocery store in New York towards the end of 2019. Before coming to America, he’d lived six years in Germany, majoring in computer science in Berlin. Let’s call him Himel.
Himel appeared to be a chatty guy. Our conversation would be punctuated now and then by the arrival of shoppers. I went to Germany, Himel said, right after finishing college, at the age of 19.
Why didn’t you stay there? I asked.
A mysterious smile crossed his face. I wish I could, he said.
Himel told me he hasn’t made much money in America. All his money—the larger portion—he actually made while he was in Germany.
What did you do there? I asked.
I worked at a little shop that sold phone stuff and calling cards.