A letter to Victor in the ‘Terminal’ (2004) in a contemporary reading

Dear Victor

I know it is an insufficient greeting to ask you, how are you doing as in a crisis- as the only good news would be to resolve your issue. However, I would ask you how you are, as it is the sincerest greeting to begin this conversation (and I hope one of your friends at the burger joint or the duty-free store can read this letter out to you). If you are wondering, why am I writing to you in the first place being a stranger, let me introduce myself- I am Moni and I study airport work. I am writing in to understand what ways I can help you, by asking my friends. I hope you can have a conversation via this letter.

As you have been stuck in an ‘non place’, where the only purpose of the airport terminal is to facilitate movement, I would like to ask you about your routine? And your friends who make your life bearable (at least that is what I would guess). What has been the best burger you have had so far. The quarter pounder must be sumptuous.

What is the hardest aspect of living in a terminal building where the rhythm of movement is a constant? As a trolley handler, where have you found the most trolleys stacked up. What are the kinds of people who leave the trolleys vagabond, for you to collect?

I hope you find the toilets clean and have found a place to shower. And that you find joy in the brief moments of banter with your airline attendant friend. I wonder who the people are who find a connection with you. How is the conversation with the friend at the cashier at the burger place?

Finally, is the airport, truly a non-place? In what ways can this airport terminal be made more humanitarian and supportive. I know these are too many questions, however I hope you get to answer them, or read them. There was another case of a Syrian refugee being stuck in Kuala Lumpur airport for months, while awaiting rehabilitation in a third country as Syria has been in tatters after the so-called Arab Spring. The human cost of civil war as you encounter suddenly is shared by the Rohingya to the Afghan. There needs to be present avenues of redressal for people who did not plan to be stuck in airport terminals.

I was wondering in reply if you could write to me in the ways I could assist in getting you out of the conundrum that you find yourself.

It is hard being stuck, where your destination is here, but not here yet. I hope you find more than a burger when you finally manage to get out of here.

Hope to hear from you soon

Take care

Moni

This blog is thanks to the efforts of Vanshika Singh, the catalyst behind a writing initiative for Graduate Students at the National University of Singapore, Department of Geography