Red Dust

They are not hiring today.

That it what they said. It took them four hours to decide while we waited outside, hopeful souls in the yellow sun too afraid to think of what ifs. Now they tell us they are not hiring, maybe tomorrow. I can see others dragging away but myself, my feet are planted. Where will I drag them to anyway if I leave here now? Its too late to go queuing at the red gate, they must have taken whatever they needed by now. It must be closed by now. Nothing to sell, no work. What next?

At the front one man is arguing with the gate man, throwing big words around and when they seem not to work, even bigger tears, begging to go in even if just for today. He would take half pay, he says. Anything, just as long as they don’t let him go home empty. I did not know men could cry, beg even, and my eyes look away in what I think is respect in this his one-time show of weakness.

Is the sun getting hotter or is it just me? There is no one close enough to ask so I have no answer. The feet will not move, the mouth is beginning to feel cracked yet I am afraid that motion of any form will cause me drop the little hope I feel I am holding onto. Have faith, she had said. Today will be different, she said. Well maybe it was. This time I was standing at the green gate with the security what-not all around and not the other one two streets away. I wonder if this was the bright future mama had said her children would grow up to. I feel something in my eye. A tear? No, it is the wind playing tricks on me. Once I heard my father said men that cry will die. I do not know if he meant they will lose their breath when they allowed a tear drop or that they will die someday as all men would but baba was a bright enough man. I believed him anyway and now did not seem a good time to die, just in case he had meant the former. Not with the baby on the way, not with mama’s death still so fresh. I cannot cry, I am a man; and so I move.

There is no thud when I walk, no shuffling. Nothing anymore. Mother would have said I let the voices eat up everything inside. Whatever weight I hold is that of the clothes on my back and even those are thin and frail, not much. It is almost as if they are bidding just enough time for me to get work and get something else before their threads break.

Heh, this life. I am afraid if it insists on going on this way, I might have no choice but to cry. Maybe if I shed enough tears it will take me and keep my baby from coming, it is safer for her in heaven. It is safer for her I think. The red dust settles on my feet so comfortably, I notice it less and less everyday. It is almost as if my feet are bleeding from tarmacking too long. Maybe I will cry, but not today.


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