By Daisha Antunes
Desperate and fearful. Alone. Being in the dark. That was how I felt that night.
I was 16 years old and taking a flight back home in Brazil by myself. Having a flight connection in Toronto at 11PM, I arrived there 13 hours early at around 10AM. The clock seemed lazier that day, moving slowly than it normally does. I spent all day sitting in an excruciatingly uncomfortable chair waiting. When, finally, it was time to board the plane, the airline’s staff put my information on the computer. After a while, to my puzzlement, he told me that my passport was invalid and I could not board the plane. The only thing I could do was to go to the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto to get a new passport. I was confused about why this was possible since I had just used the passport on my last flight in the morning. Almost crying, I told him I was only a teenager, and my parents were in different countries, so I was not able to go to the consulate by myself. “Good luck, you’re going to need it” was all that he told me.
I had no clue what to do next. I called my dad and desperately told him what happened. He made some calls, and we still had no answers as to what happened to my passport. I was starting to accept the fact I would not be able to get on that flight anymore. I was right. I could not figure it out before the airplane took off.
My dad left his city in the United States, heading to Toronto as soon as he heard from me. After an exhausting 9 hours, he arrived, and we went straight to the Brazilian Consulate for a new passport. But it was not my lucky day. As soon as we got there, the consulate officer told me that I needed my mother’s authorization to get a passport. I felt like the sky was collapsing on me, thinking it would be impossible for me to get her authorization. My mom and I hadn’t been talking to each other for a year and a half until we had a big fight before I traveled to the U.S. I felt like a baby running to my dad’s arms for comfort. After a moment of intense grief, he came out with some ideas. He spent several hours calling lawyers to help us with this problem only to find out there was nothing we could do without my mom’s permission.
The only thing we had left was to call the Federal Police of Brazil since they are accountable for issuing passports. That was when we discovered my mother had made a report in Brazil, saying my passport was lost, and when she did this, my passport was automatically canceled. It means she did it just to get me in trouble and let me be stuck there at the airport.
After discovering this, we went back to the airport and to try to explain to someone about my situation. Maybe somebody with a good heart would be able to do something else for me. When we got there, my dad talked with a lady working in the airline company, and she agreed to help. Probably my sad story stirred something in her. Whispering, she told me her plan: She would try to get me on the next flight without anyone knowing. I was profoundly relieved. At the same time, I was scared. If anyone discovered it, I would not be able to go back home, and she would get into serious trouble.
The time to try the plan came. I looked nervous because this didn’t seem lawful. I entered the gate, boarded the plane, and walked quietly to my seat. I sat down and waited, barely breathing, for the flight to take off. After some minutes, the plane left the ground. I took a deep breath, letting out all of the bad feelings. Finally, I was going home. I did it. We did it. Without my dad, I would not have been able to handle the situation by myself. And this lady, named Lidia, will never be erased from my mind. She was really my better angel.
Bio: Originally from Brazil, Daisha Antunes is currently a student majoring in Manufacturing Engineering at Robert Morris University in the Pittsburgh area. She is currently on the RMU rowing team. In her free time, she loves hanging out with her teammates. She has two fluffy dogs, a Samoyed and an Alaskan Malamute, who she loves going on for a walk with every day. Daisha wrote this essay when she was taking classes with Chatham University English Language Program.