Gul Bakhshavi works at the 7-11 behind our house. For the last 10 years I have been walking around the corner late at night. Before Elijah grew up, got married, and moved out he and I would walk there and talk late at night, and meet Gul's smiling face.
Gul has been working the graveyard shift most of the 10 years we have lived here. I would greet him with a smile, ask him about his home and family in Pakistan. We would do small talk, and then I would smile and leave with a running joke about the fact he worked the graveyard shift.
He would say "have a good night."
I would reply, "Have a good day." He would laugh because it was the beginning of a long night doing the graveyard shift. He sacrifices himself each day, and plans to work 10-12 years in the US, living frugally, saving money, and then go home with enough money to live comfortably.
Tonight I saw Gul again. I really don't remember his name, and he does not remember mine. Once he gave me a series of tapes on Islam, and shared his faith with me. He knows I pastor a church in town.
Tonight he gave me a book he wrote. It is mostly in Urdu, but has an intro in English. It is a poetic translation of 400 years history, combined with a rough poetic translation of Obama's acceptance speech.
I did not vote for Obama. I would not if the election were to happen again now. That does not matter. Gul wrote on the back/front page, "for my best friend Phil."
I am honored:
1) to be given the book.
2) to be called a friend by a Muslim man working in the US, and waiting his lonely days before he returns home.
3) to see into his heart and see the hope Obama's election brought to him.