For years Mario has worked at a company that recently began to hire many Bangladesh workers. He recounts: “At first it wasn’t easy, but then things got better. They were making an effort to learn the work and were offered assistance when the language became a problem. Well, there was some lingering mistrust, especially in the departments.” Mario doesn’t talk much, but very observant and able to know what people are thinking. He sees their problems and listens with interest, this is why he’s a good man to work with.
Then one day something else happened that regarded a colleague at work. It bothered Mario and he talked about it with his wife, Silvia: “Hossain has to go back to Bangladesh for the holidays. He asked that someone accompany him, after being paid, to the airport. If only you knew how much grumbling there was then, everyone saying that he could manage it on his own, and should they lose a day of vacations in order to do him this favour?” Mario hesitated and coughed a bit, as Silvia moved cups and dishes around the kitchen. “You go, if you feel like it,” his wife suggested. “If you were the one in need, you’d be glad to find people who were willing to help, wouldn’t you?” “Yeah, I have thought about it. It’s a long trip, but I don’t want him to pay.” “You do well, and pay no attention to the criticism from others.”
The day came. Everyone said goodbye to Hossain with a certain joking and euphoria: “Don’t trust this one,” someone said, “you never know where he’ll take you!” “But go on,” says another, “you didn’t feel like taking him, but Mario yes, I’d certainly trust myself to him anytime!” Mario and Hossain departed and travelled for 200 kilometres, but when Hossain wanted to repay him for the ride Mario reiterated: “I don’t want anything, I’m glad to take you and wish you a good trip. I know it will be a bit tiring, but you’ll be happy once you see your children and friends!”
Hossain was visibly moved, he didn’t expect this! A hasty farewell, boarding and then Mario was on his way back home. A month went by, a quiet month, at lunch they often spoke of Houssain and his upcoming return. “And how will he get back?” the family asked. His return is taken care of, Mario informed them, because some of his countrymen who will be travelling with him will give him a lift to his house. When Houssain returned to the factory, Mario was waiting to meet him and listen to all the stories about his visit to another side of the world, where the daily struggles can even involve sharing in the emotional fatigue of having to leave and return to one’s family and loved ones.
He hadn’t long to wait. When he tracked him down, he found Houssain excited and happy. He told of his visit, how his children had grown and the feasts with relatives. . . Then he unrolled a large carpet before the Italian. Mario looked at it with curiosity but never expected to hear Houssain say: “A carpet for you.” Mario’s eyes widened as he thought of how Silvia would be surprised. She had never received a gift like this! It seemed like the flying carpet from those stories he read as a child when he had dreamt of flying on a magic carpet to faraway lands. He closed his eyes and dreamt again, but there was Houssain’s carpet still in front of him, a token of gratitude and a seal on a friendship that had the flavour of a fairy tale.