5 (166) - shopkeepers treat me like a scruffy dog When I squash my nose against the glass cabinets in which they display their wares\u2014orange rows

5 (166) - shopkeepers treat me like a scruffy dog When...

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shopkeepers treat me like a scruffy dog. When I squash my nose against the glass cabinets in which they display their wares—orange rows of Karachi halwa and half-moons of gujiyas decorated with powdered green cardamom—they poke me on the head with broomsticks and threaten to douse me with mugs of cold water. My feet slip through the holes in the pavement. “Beta, watch your step,” says a chacha whose face is as wrinkled as my shirt. He’s sipping chai in a tea shop that juts out into the lane. Playing on a radio at the shop is an old Hindi film song that’s Papa’s favorite. “This Journey, So Beautiful,” the hero sings. The men sitting next to the helpful chacha, on knee-high barrels and upturned plastic crates, don’t see me. Their eyes are full of sadness at not being picked for a job today. All morning they must have waited at the junction near the highway for the contractors who arrive in jeeps and trucks to hire people for laying bricks or painting walls. There are too many men and too few

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