105 in the Shade
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105 in the Shade • Posted: Oct 28, 2007 01:00:32Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Like heat, fear can be oppressive. I remember him saying, "Thees road is like in my country."

We were driving onto a mining site. The gravel path wound up and down and around between huge mounds of crushed rock. Atop one of the mounds was a giant dump truck with wheels three meters tall and a wedge shaped bed wide and deep enough to hold the equivalent of two rail cars. Around another mound was the moldering hulk of a discarded mechanical shovel whose cab was literally the size of a house, whose tracks were as wide as a car is long, and whose shovel was big enough to hold two full-sized SUV's. Our vehicle bounced and lurched left then right over the uneven ground.

"Like this, huh?"

"Not in the city, outside the city."

"No trees?"

"Very few. My country looks like thees."

I looked into his eyes and he indicated "Yes, like this." His smile was bright, revealing healthy but evenly yellowed teeth that nearly matched the yellowed whites of his pale brown eyes. His skin was a grayed light brown, his physique very thin, and his manner extremely graceful and gentle. He was newly arrived from Ethiopia. His name was Demelash.


"Yes, dry. And very hot."

"And you said you won the lottery?"

"Yes, to get a visa, to come here. For 7 years I work my government job and every year I enter the lottery. Every year I lose. But this year I win. Still, it was not easy."


"My family, they became jealous. They told the superintendent many stories about me so he would reject my application. But I kissed his feet many many times and gave him my sandals."

"A bribe?"

"Yes. But there was no other way."

"Now all is well. You are here."

"Yes, only I live in fear."


"Anyone could say something and they would send me back."

"Like what?"

"Like rape. I would never talk to a woman in this country. If they accuse me, I would be sent back."

"Not talk to a woman? You mean you never date?"

"Absolutely no. It is why my family did not want me to come. They know I will never marry, except if I go back to my country."

"I don't understand how you can live like that."

"I room with my cousin. He has been here for three years. It is OK."

"In the meantime you study and look for work."

"Yes. That is my life in thees country."

"And he doesn't date either?"

"Oh yes. Sometimes he dates girls from the University, from his classes."

"But you don't."

"No. I don't."

"That is sad, my friend, very sad. Hopefully soon you will become less afraid."

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007