Friday, October 3, 2008

Snapshots of our Lives

It’s hot and as I stride down the dusty street I swat the snotty nosed children begging for “one birr, mister” away like they are flies. I don’t stop because if I do I will be surrounded by the horde of them. My long strides are difficult to match and one by one they fall away, realizing that they won’t get that one birr out of me today.

Then, out of nowhere, one of them has the audacity to touch me. I spin around, readying my most withering glare; guaranteed to make whoever it is stop, back away and run for cover. But it is she who stops me. It is not the outstretched hand begging for that birr but the look on her face. It is slightly apologetic. As if to say “I’m sorry, but I had to. If you were in my situation you would do the same.” It’s hesitant as if when I turned around she lost her nerve but can’t back away because she needs the birr more than she needs her pride. It’s a look of awkward desperation.

And yet there is a hint of a smile in her face. Perhaps it is an apologetic smile or maybe it just a smile to charm the ferenj into giving her a birr. But it is purer than that, more revealing. It is the smile of someone who knows something that the other doesn’t, something more. A smile that speaks of the knowledge of her situation and how she knows that if I were born into her family it would be me begging for change and not her. It’s a bemused smile as she wonders to herself at why I think I have the right to spin around so confidently, hands already on the holster. It’s a knowing smile.

I don’t know how to react to her. I stand staring incomprehensibly as if shell-shocked and she continues to smile, hand out and expectant. I turn and slowly walk away, leaving her standing still in her spot beside the pedestrian bridge.

1 comment:

Jen said...

to live a day in someone else's shoes. Oh, what we'd learn.