Life is a mystery. It’s full of hellos and goodbyes. People come and go as I write, but there’s some who never go; they take a spot right beside you and stay to enjoy the jazz of life. These people might or might not be physically with you, but it doesn’t matter because there’s bonds to which we’ll always be attached to. I have met people from different nationalities and backgrounds and I have lived with them enough to get a glimpse of their lives, traditions and cultures. I have always been amazed by how much complexity there is in a human being. Meeting people, as similar as it could be all the time, is still different in a way that makes every human being you meet, unique. Just like the time I met Didi; my best friend. He’s around 40 years old but yet, he could be 20 or even 50. This is a friend who you wouldn’t easily find in a party, but rather in the field of life. This is a guy who’ll speak to you with nothing else but the truth – I admire him and this is his story.
At the age of 20, Didi, a senegalese man, took all his savings and bought a plane ticket to the unknown: Japan. He was leaving Senegal seeking for new adventures, new faces and clearly new opportunities. He lived in Japan for 17 years from which he formed a half senegalese half Japanese family. He used to tell me a lot about the meaning of family. “You’ll find love even at the darkest times because of family” “When there’s love, there’s family” etc. I found this concept a little foreign as I hadn’t particularly been too close to my family, but made me reflect on the way families are seen at least on the western atmosphere. We often forget what truly matters and get caught up on relationships, not real friends, etc, but what we forget is that there’s only one unconditional love that certainly only comes from your family.
Life hasn’t been easy for him. Once he got to Japan, he had to work hard, real hard. He used to work for a construction company from 7 to 7 and get back home to learn Japanese and English. Otherwise he wouldn’t have made it there for so long as language problems made it difficult for him at work. He learned English and Japanese in less than a year in order to survive in such society while keeping his job. “Life requires us to be strong and work hard, because no-one else is going to do the work for us” that’s what he used to say to me at work. Going back to my year in Senegal, I had the privilege to work with Didi on an ambitious poultry farm project from which I was able to learn the real purpose of work: to help others and ultimately help myself through every lesson available at every field.
No-one is perfect and we’re not meant to be. In 2012, Didi didn’t choose the right path and got deported from this land he was almost calling home. Life seemed to stop at that very moment as he was waving to say bye to his three daughters at Narita airport in Tokyo. A human mistake was tearing a big part of his heart apart as he had to leave Japan. But he was strong, and boarded back to Senegal. The transition hasn’t been easy, and he often describes it as “too foreign for home, too foreign for here. Never enough for both”. Something I was able to relate a lot as I’ve been leaving abroad for the past 3 years of my life where coming back is always a realization of how much has changed on my mind but not on the place I called home.
Didi hasn’t found it easy at home, but he always takes it positively and instead use it as an opportunity to keep learning. He started going to fish to then sell the fish at the market and make some money. However, a while ago, he started doing agriculture as it is what he truly loves. He founds a lot of pleasure on it. “When you plant a seed, it’s underground, and you don’t know if it’s going to grow or not, but that’s why I’m here to make it happen and see it happening. That’s why I love agriculture.” There’s certain things I extremely admire about my friend, Didi, and this is one of them again. Passion gives joy and fill us with love and dedication and without it life could easily turn miserable. “The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand and without it, any happiness is only temporary”.
This is why I call life a mystery; we never know who are we meeting next. It’s a part of the uniqueness of every human being. We could meet Didi tomorrow or we could meet someone else as well.
Thank you Didi for this, and more teachings you have given me through this very inexplicable but intense thing we call life.