It was half past noon and Khalid was still waiting for customers. He had woken up at sunrise to pray, and left his home as the sun began to shed its light over the city. He drank a cup of chai and ate a piece of naan, leaving the house with hope in his heart and strength in his arms.

It had been almost 6 hours since then and any trace of strength he had left was disappearing quickly. The city had become more empty than usual, and he wasn’t making much money as a rickshaw driver anymore.

Khalid frowned and leaned down to scratch his leg when he felt someone approaching. He looked up hopefully, only to see a khareji (foreigner) woman aiming her camera at him, looking into her lens and taking pictures as she came closer.

He glared at her, his eyes piercing the lens of her camera.

She gleefully kept clicking, and he looked away, feeling his face turn red. He felt ashamed somehow.

How could she know, the hardships, the difficulties Khalid had seen in his life? How hungry he was, how frustrated he was, how close he came to losing hope some days?

He looked up to see if she was still there. She wasn’t.

Khalid sighed and leaned back into his rickshaw chair, trying to avoid the scorching sun that had been on him.

He wondered what the woman would say when she showed his picture to her people.

Would they know him as an angry rickshaw driver? A sad man in a war torn country? A stranger from far away lands?

He shook off his anger and he continued to watch the passersby, hoping one of them had also been scorched by the sun, and would look to his rickshaw for refuge.

He wondered if the khareji woman had needed a ride but had been intimidated by his glare.

Probably not.


Story and illustration by @rasmorawaj ©

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