Published: June 8, 2020 11:38:43 pm
The stories of Mehran Karimi Nasseri (the inspiration behind Steven Spielbergâ€™s The Terminal) and Randy Juan Muller share many similarities. Nasseri, an Iranian citizen, found himself to be a man without a country and spent nearly two decades inside a terminal in Charles de Gaulle Airport. Muller, a young footballer from Ghana who plays for a seven-a-side football team in Kerala, spent 73 days stranded outside Mumbai airport with less than Rs 1,000 in his pocket. He was stranded on his way home because of the lockdown. The difference between the two, though, is this: Nasseriâ€™s story captivated precisely because it was extraordinary. Mullerâ€™s is part of the norm for many in post-COVID India â€” stuck, forgotten and just trying to go home.
Muller managed to survive his over two-month-long ordeal because of his decency and the kindness of strangers. He made friends with the security personnel outside the airport, who gave him food, shelter and company. Strangers passing by and through helped out too. Now, bureaucracies of the Ghana embassy, Maharashtra government and the government of India have stepped in to make sure he has a hotel room till he can get on a flight home.
Mullerâ€™s is a feel-good story about the kindness and empathy of ordinary people. But behind the joy of his imminent return home, the lack of bitterness on his part, is also a parable for how individual pain is lost in the sea of statistics and the blindness of the powers that be. The happy ending for Muller, sadly, is an exception.
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