Passing Nowhere on their safari route, tourists in zebra-striped buses, would not cast a thought on faded farmers weeding red-dust coated crops, in the village where I lived.  Yet we lived there, buying fresh goats meat off rusty hooks, to stew and serve with home-grown vegetables.

We were many, and not invisible to each other, although they did not glance our way. Our village homes were shabby, but shaded by great green leaves, we ate sweet red bananas, and chewed juicy sugarcane, spitting out fibrous lumps to dry yellow in the sun.

We had many children – all dirty with seasonal red mud or red dust – playing in noisy hordes, pushing each other up and down potholed paths on odd-wheeled contraptions, laughing and crying in their own system of justice, and keeping out of the path of black and white striped buses.

On the verandas of our road-side shops lived a homeless woman, who scurried and stared and mumbled. Blessings or curses we could not tell, but if you looked into her dark eyes you saw a glimpse of hell. As she had nowhere else to go we fed her, and let her live in our Nowhere.

A zebra with a broken tire, panting, but for once not breathing red dust, stopped near the shops, with pale faces staring out. The homeless woman pressed her face against the cold glass and howled softly while children skipped around the crippled bus, laughing.

When, repaired, it scurried off; we joined the children’s laughter and bought tea and biscuits for the homeless woman, who hurried off with her unexpected treats, while we glowed in the pleasure of having been seen. Even though we lived in Nowhere.


Dhaka 2014

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