45. At Last I’ve Been Dealt the Perfect Hand – Thursday

January 1959

Thursday morning.  I got dressed with a little more spring in my step, enjoyed my breakfast and made sure to grab that bag with those documents before heading out the door.

I looked one more time into the bag, making sure I had also put the $10 American cash (which I had saved from previous American encounters) and my British passport.  I did.

I went directly to my job.  I worked for an hour and a half and then, it was tea time!  Taking advantage of this leisurely break I excused myself and went straight to the U.S. Consulate’s office.  

Theresa was there at her desk and she greeted me with an adorable smile,  “Nice to see you again.”  I put my bag upon the counter, removing all the papers and such, placing them there.

She just looked at me.  She didn’t touch them.  I’m looking at her, she’s looking at me, still Theresa is not touching them.  

“You know what?”  she asked.  ‘What?’ I replied.  I waited for her to say something else.  I am smiling and I don’t know why.  The suspense was a bubble just waiting to burst.

She finally spoke, “I am dreaming. I don’t believe it.”  Theresa tapped the papers.

‘Did I do something wrong?’  I asked her.  “There’s no way possible!”  she said.  

“I’ve never witnessed anything like this since I’ve worked with the Consulate’s office.”  Now she’s beginning to flip through the papers.  Seems to have met her approval.   

“You know Mr Masala, I have worked with this office, first in Noumea and now Suva, and I have never had a case like this where the paperwork was completed so rapidly.  Usually it’s 3-4 weeks and sometimes more!”  

Making a neat pile of it all, she took from me my passport, the American cash for the processing fee and all the paperwork back into the other office; the Office of the Consulate General.

About 10 minutes later she returned.  “Okay that’s it!  You have an appointment tomorrow morning at 10am sharp to take your oath!”  Theresa seemed excited for me, well it certainly sounded like that.  “Then you can collect your visa.”

Theresa sent me on my way with, “Such determination and great follow through Mr. Masala.  Good day!”

I could feel it, I was ready to fly!

Now I returned to work and stayed put for the rest of my shift.  But not before giving Jules another great big hug.  “Nand, come back soon and take me with you!” she told me as she hugged me back.

Passing on the celebratory cold Guinness temptation, I needed to get home right away this evening.  I was even more determined to relish in my family time.  

No developments or questions.  It was to be like any other evening at home.  I wasn’t expecting to see Noori until the weekend as that has been the normal.

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45. At Last I’ve Been Dealt the Perfect Hand – Wednesday

January 1959

Rise and shine to Wednesday morning and half-way there!  I went to work.  I had a few words with one of the front-line girls, Jules.  We got on real good, always a smile for one another, great for a successful working environment.  Okay, I would’ve dated her if it were possible.

Actually every last one of us at this jeweler shop got on perfectly, including the boss man.  I thought to myself that I would be blessed indeed to have such a wonderful working environment again, wherever I ended up.

I lowered my voice as I spoke to her, ‘Please don’t speak of this to anyone, not yet.’  She promised she wouldn’t.  I asked her what she thought.  Did she have any ideas as to what I could do to get the final document; promise of accommodation?  

Honestly I hadn’t a clue (and believe it or not, neither a connection) what I should do with this one.  After only a few brief moments of thought she smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry Nand,” that’s what she called me, “I’ve got a brilliant idea!”  

Bless her angel heart, Jules went on her lunch break that very afternoon to the church of the Bahá’í Faith and returned with an official (yes, on their letterhead) letter stating my name as a member who was migrating to the United States.  What an unexpected surprise!

To Whom it May Concern …. Mr. Masala is a member in good standing … please accommodate him with a place to stay and help him all you can until he can get on his feet …”

I hugged her so tightly, I just couldn’t help myself!  ☺️ I’m suspecting she’s not minding.

Was all of this supposed to happen or what?!  Else all of these elements couldn’t have fallen so easily into place, right?  It was like magic, I just couldn’t believe every piece was coming so freely into my hand.

I went straight home again, no Guinness stop after work.  It was a wonderful evening as was most always the scene.  A perfect dinner, everyone talking along with the laughter and fun with the children.  

Then at one point my brother mentioned casually, “For a week I’ve been noticing that you’ve been slipping in and out of work, taking some extra time away.  Curious, what are you up to?”  

I responded, ‘Nothing in particular, just some personal stuff I had to take care of and some people to see.’  He acknowledged the answer with a slight smile, the kind that comes from a twinkle in the eye.  My brother was smarter than I knew at that time.  

This reply was good enough because everyone knew I had legal matters to tend to every now and again so what I was doing really didn’t raise any flags.

Later that night after everyone had gone off to their rooms, I made certain all of the paperwork was complete.  No blanks on any of the official documents and triple-checking to be sure I had all the items called for.  

I then placed all of that into a nice bag which I had previously purchased for such safe keeping purpose.

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With such great conviction, I just knew it was my destiny to live in these beautiful United States of America.

45. At Last I’ve Been Dealt the Perfect Hand – Monday

January 1959

The American Consulate’s office had arrived on Cumming Street in Suva, providing a green light at my crossroads.  It was a Monday morning when I headed towards their front door and there was only one thing on my mind, immigration to the United States.

I seem to recall a 3-story building housing a Chinese restaurant on the street level, the consulate’s office above taking the entire 2nd floor, with the 3rd floor being irrelevant to me.

A short hike up the stairs and I was inside the office, looking curiously around.  There was a woman sitting at a desk.  She looked up at me and asked in a kindly voice, “How can I help you?”  I responded, ‘This is the American consulate’s office?’  She smiled,  “Yes.”    

‘I would like to apply for a permanent resident visa so I can live in the United States,’ I stated eagerly.

She got up and excused herself going into one of the rooms somewhere behind the front office.  She returned with a stack of forms for me.  I met her back at the counter.  

“Read all the requirements, fill all these out and be sure to gather the necessary documents which are listed on this page..,” she was pointing to the list.  “…and when you’ve completed everything, bring the entire packet back here and we’ll move to the next step from there.”

I told her my name and asked for hers; Theresa, she told me.  I extended my hand to shake hers and left the office.  On my way down, at the last step before I exited the premises with my stack of forms, a thought hit me like a thunderclap.  ‘Wait a minute,’ it started.  ‘Didn’t I do this years before?’  

I turned right around and marched back up those steps with even more determination than before, feeling a whole lot closer to my goal.  Theresa was at her desk and she looked up at me again, just as before and this time she said, “What? You’re back again!”  

She was grinning at me.  “Did I forget something or maybe you’ve got something for me?”  I shook my head and with a return smile I stated, ‘Not really but I have a question.’

“Go ahead,” she said.  I asked her if the consulate kept old applications.  In an assured voice Theresa replied, “We keep everything.”  The look on her face told me she couldn’t wait to hear what I had to say.

I explained I had submitted a similar application years before; it was the spring of 1953.  I told her I had mailed it to the American Consulate in Noumea, New Caledonia.  She wrote my name and the year on a piece of paper.  She got up from her desk and said she’d go in the back and look for it.  

Theresa suggested, “Why not have a seat Mr. Masala. This might take a while.”  It may have been 15-20 minutes before she returned and with my file in hand -how about that!  She took it straight to her desk to spend a few moments reviewing the old application.  

Theresa asked me why I had not completed the application before.  I explained there were various particulars including timing and financial reasons.  She nodded, adding and subtracting pages, re-sorted them and restated what I needed now.  

It was the same as before really; the doctor’s bill of good health, no disease and such to include a chest x ray looking out mainly for TB, and financial letter of sponsorship.  Also needed would be a letter vouching a promise of accommodation when I arrive in the United States and lastly a police report clearing me as safe, respectable and without record person.

I knew I could take care of the list for I would be persistent in changing the direction of my life.  Theresa wished me success, “I wish you all the best Mr. Masala.  I think you are really ready for this and so we will see you soon, I expect.”

I smiled and thanked Theresa. This time I actually left the building and I went straight to work.  It took me all of 10 minutes on foot.

C - Sunset at the beach

At the end of the work day, I stopped to have my ice cold Guinness Stout with an excited feeling following me about.  I took the evening bus towards home.

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Theresa of course is a ficticious name for a truly helpful, sweet and kind person.