A middle aged man with a tired looking face and old clothes stood in the scorching sun and waited for the lights to turn red. The family in the Land Cruiser watched as he approached their car. When he came close they looked away. But the child at the back was curious.
“What does he want?” asked the little boy snuggled safely in the car seat and holding a Barney that talked when a button was pressed.
“He wants money,” replied his mother as she put down her fashionable Prada sunglasses from her head to cover her eyes and looked in the other direction at the bright shops on the side of the road.
“Can I give him my cookies?” the little boy suggested. His parents exchanged looks and didn’t say anything.
The man on the road looked at the boy in the car and thought of his own son back home. His heart ached. He wished he could send him money like he had promised, but here he was without a job and a visa and begging on the road so he would not starve. He trudged to the next car that stopped.
It was a red sports car with a young man at the wheel listening to loud music. He drummed on his steering and didn’t even notice the man on the road. His mind was too occupied with his lunch meeting at a five star hotel with the girl of his dreams. He checked himself in the mirror, adjusted his spikes, and then continued drumming.
“There’s no hope here”, thought the man on the road as he again took his position on the divider. The lights turned green and the cars sped off leaving him standing alone, the perspiration beginning to drench his faded shirt.
He had come to the country on a visit visa hoping to find work as an electrician. His family of 8 had many expectations of him and had believed that better days were coming. But his visa expired and he still hadn’t found any work. He was willing to do any kind of work but there were hundreds like him in the city and not enough jobs. He had no money left and was forced to beg. Sometimes a kind soul would hand him a few dirhams and he would eat that day. At night he slept at the bus stand.
He would stand at different places each day. He didn’t want to get noticed. He would keep walking if he saw a police car patrolling the area. He didn’t want them to stop him and ask for papers he didn’t have.
He waited for the next batch of cars to stop at the red light. A grey Mercedes slowed down and the driver of the car, an elderly Emirati recognized the man on the road from the day before. He remembered how guilty he had felt for not doing something. After all he had been blessed in every way and it was his duty to share those blessings with those less fortunate than him. He opened his window and signaled to the man on the road.
“Do you want work? Can you work as a gardener?”
The man nodded.
“Here is my address. Come tomorrow morning.”
The man on the road could hardly believe it. He had heard of the generosity of the locals. Was his luck finally changing?
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