Wednesday, July 07, 2004


The Injured Laborer

I do most of my work at an internet shop nearby. Every hour or so, I take a break and go out for a smoke and a stroll to stretch my legs, ease the pain in my back and to do some damage to my lungs.

Next door, there is a building site. Yesterday, as I emerged I noticed a young man in his early thirties (evidently a casual laborer) sitting in a chair looking rather apathetically at an injured toe. He had been injured by a make-shift winch they use at building sites. About half an inch of his toe had disappeared together with the nail.

At his feet, a boy and a girl of about 9 or 10 sat, staring at the wound and at a glass which had a milky liquid – evidently an antiseptic… not certain whether to apply it or not! His feet were filthy! He had those slippers many Iraqis seem to wear (now of international fame since used to bash at a portrait of Saddam Hussein). Work at the site was going on as if nothing had happened!

There wasn't even the slightest hint of pain on his face (That would have been unmanly, of course). I said that a doctor should look at his wound. He said "Do you think so?", thought about it a little and went limping on his way - probably to seek medical attention.

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