Hajj 2018: Pilgrims leaving behind trail of memories and relationships

Ehtesham Shahid

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"Teshekkur Ederim" were the only two words a Turkish couple could express while thanking a Jordanian couple who offered them a free ride to Mecca's Masjid al-Haram on Saturday evening.

However, the emotions both couples experienced were overwhelming and went beyond those two words. Despite language barrier they understood each other's needs, as well as sentiments, and did what was expected of them.

It was only natural for them offer seats to fellow pilgrims who wanted to beat the sweltering heat and those who benefited from this act of kindness had belief that someone will come to their rescue.

The two couples will probably never meet again but the bond they formed is likely to endure. Such interactions were taking place all over and each pilgrim had tales of their own set of memorable encounters.

As hundreds and thousands of Hajj pilgrims start their journey back home, they are leaving behind a trail of such relationships they formed with the holy place and people who made it home. Most of these encounters are likely to remain etched in their memories.

From just offering a bottle of water to giving a bit of space for someone to lie down, every kind gesture mattered as people jostled for space while trying to complete rituals.

Lost and found

An elderly Indian ‎pilgrim couple said they wouldn't have been able to make it to Muzdalefa on Wednesday if this Yemeni driver hadn't come to their rescue.

"We got separated from our group and lost all hope of reaching Muzdalefa in time. But then this person just showed up from somewhere and offered to drive us down inside a huge water trawler," he said.

At the Masjid al-Haram an elderly Afghan man very casually handed over his bag and foldable chair to a fellow pilgrim promising to return after tawaf (circumambulation).

The situation, however, became different, even comical, when he failed to show up for over two hours. "The custodian of his bag panicked and started searching his bag only to find that he had even left his mobile phone in the bag," said the lady who had to stay on the phone till well past midnight ‎to ensure that his family traced him.

At the end of it all, it was worth helping each other out as they were all in it together and had the determination to emerge stronger. What mattered to them was forming a bond with the fellow pilgrim, and that's precisely what they did.