About 20 years ago, I was serving in Georgia as part of a United Nations mission from the Bangladesh Army. I spent a lot of time with many domestic and foreign military, civilian officials, many senior officials of the United Nations. I have seen their culture and traditions. It was all a new experience. But I will never forget one of these families in Georgia. I still remember them and wished to see them again. Today I am going to tell you about one such family.
I have taken a long leave of 21 days from the mission. As usual, everyone else comes to the country on vacation, I also wanted to come to the country, but I once thought that as sooner I would go to the country a few days later, so how about I take a little trip to Georgia this holiday !! Who knows when I would be back again or would even never come next !!!. I visited Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, very less and I did not visit the capital or the surrounding cities. So I thought, let's go for Tbilisi.
The quality of hotels in Tbilisi is not so good, while those that are high-quality, the cost is skyrocketing. Meanwhile, there is an interpreter in my sector, Sorena Gamchakhurdia, with whom I have to go on duty every day. She informed me that one of her aunts lives in Tbilisi, and I could stay with them for a few days if I wished to. They may not be rich, but they're good-hearted people. If I agree, she can tell them about it.
If it were our country, we would not normally give such an offer to anyone. I am a foreigner, and I do not know anyone in whose house I am going to live, nor do they know me at all. But since I've lived in Georgia for about 8/9 months, I already understood their ethos very well. They offer their best to their guests at all circumstances. I agreed, thinking that it would be better for me to stay with a family than to stay in an isolated hotel.
On the appointed day I reached the airport of Tbilisi. According to Shorena, someone will come to pick me up from the airport. So I was waiting at the lobby of the airport. Then, waiting a little bit, I walked out of the airport and thought, it would be better if I buy a few packs of cigarettes. Just then, someone called me from behind in excellent English - and said, are you Major Akhtar? Looking back, a young girl of 23/24 years, absolutely blue eyed, bob cutting blonde hair, and is standing behind me. I replied: yes, I am. No further introduction right then. I took my bags and boarded in the car. While on the car, we talked a while. She said, 'My name is Deduna Bukia.' I am a journalist and sister of Shorena.
It took about 40/50 minutes to get from the airport to their home. It’s a big Condominium and located on a high ground. Nice place. From the apartment complex you can see the thick city, the blue sky, far away the Caucasus Mountains. Really good looking scenarios all around.
We got out of the car and went to the elevator. Apartment is next to the elevator. It was a family house with three or four rooms. Adjacent to the living room is a large kitchen and dining area. The other rooms are side by side. The room they have for me is the best room in the house. A new mattress, a new bed cover, new sandals and new towel ets. They did everything they could do for me. Felt very nice. They live with three sisters (Deduna Bukia, Tamara, and Salomi) and an aunt (mother). They are Shoren's cousins. Aunty is probably involved in the work of an X-ray machine in a government hospital (I don't remember the name of the department at the moment).
Deduna is engaged in journalism. On arrival at home, I met with everyone at house and talked to everyone. Believe me, I felt like I knew them long before. I became part of their family. It's an incredible family. They didn't do anything that can hurt me, rather they did everything to make me feel better. Later in the evening, some of their other relatives came to meet me as well. Daduna’s other cousin, Russo, was a doctor. She came the next day. They were all unmarried.
Every day we used to visit new places like park, restaurant, historical place, the market, sometimes to the beach, surrounding villages, Museums, archaeological sites, gardens, zoos, and many other places. There is no sea beach in Georgia but there is a very big bay where many tourists and locals go there and enjoys like Beach. We all as well visited such places, swims, cuddled, and walked a long way, basking sun on the beach, and played. It's been an amazing time. I forgot totally that I was a guest here. There is a famous restaurant named 'Eagle', where we had candle light dinner for two consecutive nights. The Restaurant is named after a famous Singer Group EAGLE.
While staying at house, sometimes they would dance together at home with the rhythm of the karaoke broadcasted on TV. I've had an amazing time every day. Shorena joined us in Tbilisi four days later. After that, we all had a great time together. I will never forget their love, affection and respect shown to me. It cannot be forgotten.
Deduna is now the mother of four children, Shorena is also the mother of two, and her other two sisters (Tamara and Salome) are also living very healthy life with their husband and children. I still keep in touch with them because of Facebook and it's great when I see them living happily and peacefully. I always remember them. Auntie may no longer be alive. And I miss her.
When I returned home from the mission, I had no heart-throbs leaving the mission, but it hurt to think that I might never see this wonderful family again. The day I left Deduna's house, I was very upset, Auntie hugged me and said - if I have time, should I go to see her again. My eyes were wet, they had become like my family. It wasn't just my eyes wet in tears but it was their eyes too.
Today, when I look at those old pictures, I can see the memories of those past days in front of my eyes. When my children sit next to me and my grandchildren look at the pictures, they ask -who all are these people?
With tears in my eyes, I might say with a smile -these are some of the people I've had some wonderful times with. Many of them may no longer exist. Ironically, we call these as “Pictures of the life”. My heart skipped a beat when I thought of some people from the past.
Sorena, Tamara, Deduna, Russo, all the best for all of you and let the God bless you all and keep you safe, healthy and protected always. Love you guys.