Almost 42 years ago, after traveling from Karachi to Switzerland by road, with a friend in 1971, I ended up in Europe. The journey through many of the countries and roads, travelled much before, by the likes of Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Alexander the Great and many other discoverers, led us though the deserts, valleys and mountains of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Italy and finally Switzerland, culminated with our trusted camel/VW van, taking its last breath, as we ascended the ramp to Switzerland through Italy, through the famous San Bernardino Tunnel.
Once our VW van died and our survival instinct started kicking in, making us take out what was absolutely necessary, like our passports and some clothing; we started walking towards the tunnel to Switzerland. The sun was setting, as did our hopes to continue our journey in our trusted friend, the VW van. Now we were catching a bus, then a train, which took us all the way through Switzerland, France, and Belgium to the Lilliputian country, Luxembourg. This compared to the United States where I have lived since 1972, was truly a fairy tale, Camelot kind of country, most of which one could travel through, in less than a day. Here my friend, Richard who owned the van, departed for his home in Virginia, USA, while I carried on to Amsterdam Holland.
I arrived at Amsterdam late in the evening. Upon descending from the train, I was followed by several suspicious looking characters, who thought that since I was coming from the Near East, I must have been carrying hashish. Much to their dismay, I told them that I had nothing. I knew of a friend who lived and worked close to Schiphol Airport, and so I took a bus to go and seek him. I found his place, only to learn that he had been in a horrible automobile accident a few weeks earlier, and was lying in a hospital in Amsterdam in a coma. I went to see my friend, but was only able to view his lifeless body, hooked up to numerous pieces of life support equipment. That is how I bid farewell to my namesake who had been my friend for many years in my homeland. He never woke up from his coma and passed, soon after, but now I wonder that perhaps he stayed on in a spiritual form, helping me in my hours of desolation?
Now, with only four dollars in my pocket, I found a cheap hotel room to spend the night. The room cost $2.50 leaving me with a dollar and fifty cents, the next morning. I could not sleep, so I spent most of the night on my knees, praying to God for mercy.
The next day, I left the hotel and started walking on the road, not knowing where I was going or how I would survive with a Dollar fifty in my pocket. As I was walking on a crowded sidewalk, I came upon a tall man, possibly my age, with a black beard, kind soft face, who just smiled at me, stopped, and asked me if I was OK. I replied, not really, since I had nowhere to go, I knew no one in Amsterdam, and had only a dollar and a half in my pocket.
This man, who called himself Robert, smiled and offered to pay for my food and lodging for the time, I had to wait to get some funds from somewhere. He looked like the pictures I had seen of Jesus, and when I became really ill because I had no warm clothes, he sat all night on the stairs where I lay, because I did not wish to wake the other hostel guests from my constant coughing. Robert read, from the Old Testament, in Hebrew. I recovered and after almost three weeks, I left Amsterdam after getting funds from Richard in Virginia. I repaid Robert, who volunteered to fly to New York with me, since I had never travelled in an airplane before, in my life. Upon reaching JFK airport in New York, Robert, my savior, simply walked away while waving to me in the terminal.
For the past forty two years, I have searched for Robert, but never found him.
Did he really exist or was he just a celestial entity, who came to save my life? Interestingly my friend Richard, from Virginia, later became a Buddhist monk and runs a monastery/teaching academy, in Lexington, Virginia.
So in my life, I met two saviors, one who said he was a Jewish man, (as was Jesus), and one who was a Christian when I met him, but now has been a Buddhist monk for over thirty years.
Were these simply co-incidences or miracles of life?
Or was this a Jesus-Buddha connection that I was never aware of until years later, after it happened?
Who knows…..life is full of miracles and miraculous incidents.
Copyrights J.Khan- ‘The Green Van – My Memoir’