So, you know the guy I spoke to yesterday. The one who didn’t want his picture taken. The one with English – the spokesman for the tribe of truckers. (If you don’t know, feel free to read about it here)
Yes, Javud. That’s the one.
We’ve become mates.
He and I were conspiring to get me onto his truck so I could see where all this sand that is being endlessly dug up and dumped by a digger into the open box bed at the back of his truck, making a sandpit in a sandpit, is being taken to.
I wanted to do a complete there and back to see how far it is with him. However, it was not to be as there are laws set in place and the police are strict. No women passengers allowed. I considered dressing as a man and even if caught, then imagine the mileage I’d get out a story from a Dubai jail. Ha!
But actually the law says NO passengers at all allowed because of insurance and legal stuff. And Javed would go to jail too. And his shift boss and the directors…
But I was invited to share their breakfast on this beautiful morning in the desert. On the pavement right opposite my home, sitting on the cardboard boxes, shoes off – me and these wonderfully gentle and joyful truck drivers. They shuffled up and made dignified room and asked me please to sit and eat with them.
I said I had to rush off somewhere – like the oven timer was pinging and the cupcakes were burning. Or something. But that was a lie. I also mumbled something about being dairy and gluten intolerant. That’s not a lie, it’s a first world problem which I hoped they didn’t hear me mumble or understand.
I declined because I’m a snob and I didn’t want my elite neighbours to see me eating with a group of dusty men, off a plastic plate on top of a cardboard box on the pavement.
I declined because I don’t know how to eat yoghurt with my right hand.
I declined because I don’t know how to build bridges across gender and culture and language in a quiet and gentle manner without coming across as arrogant, sexist, superior and stupid.
I declined because I’m an us and they are a them.
I declined because I heard my husband, who errs on the side of caution – I heard his voice telling me to use my discretion and be guarded as who knows how IT will be handled by all parties concerned.
I declined because, horror of horrors, what if they asked me for money.
I declined because I’m a fraud.
I declined, turned my back on them and walked across my road, through my gate and hid behind my high walls in my perfectly manicured garden with its fake grass and pink petunia pots.
And I wept. For them and me and all humanity.
And then I carried on with my day continually asking the God of all wisdom and compassion to show me how to move above and beyond all these barriers that we’ve created over time and place.
And a few minutes ago when I took the day’s trash to the tip on the corner I passed all these men in their trucks. I held my head high and didn’t have to look away and pretend I was searching the sky for the never existent rain clouds or to check the chips in my toenail polish. I could look at THEM, these men high up in their trucks and I could smile and wave. Because they looked at me and smiled and waved first. And on the return to my gate I said a prayer for them asking God to bless them and keep them and to make His face to shine upon them and their wives and their kids in Pakistan. And one day, who knows, maybe one of their daughters is another Malala.
Maybe, just maybe, one of these truckers daughters, will be fighting for education for all, just as she received an education herself.
All because her dad worked a tip truck, in the desert far away from home, 6 days a week, year in and year out to give her the gift of her own very precious education.
And thus giving her everything.