From the Editor's Desk: Foreign Bodies
June 14, 2019 | 8:44 PM
by Charles Lavery
Image used for representative purposes only/Image Credits: The Culture Trip.

The Bangladeshi gardener who comes to tidy up around the compound every morning always has a cheery smile and a wave ready for my daughter who, on seeing him through the window, immediately darts to the shoe rack then out the door in a flash to say hi.

He washes cars, tidies up, removes garbage and mess and is employed by the landlady. He rides around our area on an old Atlas bicycle, with a rusty basket on the front. The basket can contain anything on any given day, but always has a plastic bottle filled with drinking water.

My daughter is obsessed with his bicycle, and constantly spins the pedals when it is propped on its stand to make the back wheel turn faster and faster. Mohammed gets on with his work, all the while keeping a wary eye on events should disaster befall his only means of transport, or my daughter.

They have a morning bond, these two. My daughter, approaching four years of age, would talk to the Devil himself, so keen is she to ask every possible question under the sun, about everything under, and including, the sun.

Mohammed’s face lights up when he sees her and hers does too. It has become a morning ritual. I have spotted him out working as early as 5am and as late as 8pm. It seems he never stops.

Cleaning cars, sweeping driveways, all the while riding around on his world-weary Atlas cycle, which is no doubt older than

he is — and he’s 28.

There’s a Mohammed in every compound. Often (but not always) from Bangladesh, they are an army of silent worker bees, men

(and they are all men) who work from dawn to dusk and send every penny home to large extended families to support school fees and as many as five extended family groups.

We don’t pay them much, but the money they collect every month goes straight home, save OMR10 or OMR20 to survive another month here, toiling under a fierce sun and hoping for a brighter future.

My Mohammed still manages to smile broadly when he sees my daughter running to say hello. He remembers her name, as well as those of her siblings, and is an absolute gentleman.

You see, Mohammed has young daughters of his own, back home in Bangladesh. He is here so that their lives can be better, he tells me.

They attend school, have books and pens, have food on the table. He also helps his brothers and their families. All in, he is responsible for supporting some 16 human beings, young and old, daughters to grandmothers.

Yet he rarely has a chance to return home to spend precious time with the people he loves the most.

Think about that. Astonishing.

Every one of the Mohammeds that you see is here for the same reason, doing the same thing—the head of a vast family support network, changing and enriching lives and futures back in their home countries.

Perhaps, they all deserve a pay rise.

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