If Only

“You’ll never make it! Go wash fast!” he exclaimed. The men in the room are starting to rustle and I’m understanding the slight sense of urgency in the wide-eyed man in front of me. The lines in his face always seemed like scars that deepened with each breach of his dignity, rather than the subtle marks of old age. I help him up, despite his protests and he walks to the bathroom; he knows that only one of us will have time to wash up properly before the hoard of men huddle in front of the bathroom awaiting their turn. But I continue helping my elder with his morning rituals… I know I might have a chance to clean up, once I get to the large corporate building I work as a security guard in. I have just enough time to wipe away some of the smell of sweat that accumulates in a room of 15 men. We change into our individual work clothes that will outline our roles throughout the day. As we leave the large building, a few men are beginning to walk to the big buses – they are the early birds, who want to remain sweat free by sitting as close to the AC as they can. A man in a big shiny car, with his fresh clean clothing, drives by fast and throws insults through the window as his car spews dirt on us from beneath the tires. We take our seats in the bus, and the old man says, “if only…”


By: Mariam Bagersh

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