Migrant Workers

They sat in heat and dust beside their burlap bags, waiting for a bus that should have come two days ago. Waiting to get home from working mines in Zambia for wages paid in currency not negotiable at home. And so they purchased goods to sell when they got back.. They packed them, neatly bound and sewn in  burlap cloth. They waited patiently and when, at dusk, the bus had not arrived they spent the night beneath some trees beside the road. They would not let us join their small community, because, our wealth so obvious, would jeopardize our safety, theirs as well, and so we spent the night beneath a roof of tin behind a cinder wall and wooden door. The bus arrived next day and we stacked crates and bags atop the roof. Far too high and out of balance, the baggage caused the bus to sway and rock so dangerously that we had to stop, off-load, and stack the roof again. We reached Malawi’s border post well after dark, and by the eerie light of hissing pressure lamps the burlap bags were ripped and strewn about the ground, by guards intent on smuggled arms, inspected, packed, and sewn again. Rough welcome did not damp the joy of coming home for migrants having lived and worked for months beneath the ground of foreign Zambia. Now safe upon their native soil, they welcomed us to join their small community. We washed at a communal tap amidst the mud. We slept the night on mats of grass on floors of dirt. Segregated by sex and age, my spouse and I were now apart and sensing our unease, new friends adopted us. In the darkness of my communal room I learned what drove these men away from home and family. It was the dream of owning land, a simple farm on which to raise their family and leave a legacy of hope. Once home, they would sell their hard earned goods at market. It might take months to liquidate their wares, and then they would return to work the mines. None yet were on their final trip, but each who spoke believed that he would fill his dream.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

Migrant Workers

They sat in heat and dust beside their burlap bags, waiting for a bus that should have come two days ago. Waiting to get home from working mines in Zambia for wages paid in currency not negotiable at home. And so they purchased goods to sell when they got back.. They packed them, neatly bound and sewn in  burlap cloth. They waited patiently and when, at dusk, the bus had not arrived they spent the night beneath some trees beside the road. They would not let us join their small community, because, our wealth so obvious, would jeopardize our safety, theirs as well, and so we spent the night beneath a roof of tin behind a cinder wall and wooden door. The bus arrived next day and we stacked crates and bags atop the roof. Far too high and out of balance, the baggage caused the bus to sway and rock so dangerously that we had to stop, off-load, and stack the roof again. We reached Malawi’s border post well after dark, and by the eerie light of hissing pressure lamps the burlap bags were ripped and strewn about the ground, by guards intent on smuggled arms, inspected, packed, and sewn again. Rough welcome did not damp the joy of coming home for migrants having lived and worked for months beneath the ground of foreign Zambia. Now safe upon their native soil, they welcomed us to join their small community. We washed at a communal tap amidst the mud. We slept the night on mats of grass on floors of dirt. Segregated by sex and age, my spouse and I were now apart and sensing our unease, new friends adopted us. In the darkness of my communal room I learned what drove these men away from home and family. It was the dream of owning land, a simple farm on which to raise their family and leave a legacy of hope. Once home, they would sell their hard earned goods at market. It might take months to liquidate their wares, and then they would return to work the mines. None yet were on their final trip, but each who spoke believed that he would fill his dream.
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved