Ochers and Blues

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Fiction

The guy begging outside the non-descript, ingeniously marketed mid-range supermarket is kneeling down, ubiquitous canvas bag and empty paper mug sitting by his side. His hand outstretched to the unwelcoming observers, nonchalantly passing by. He is humble in size, large in moral stature. Barely anyone greets him in this unwelcoming (for unexpectedly chilly) Mediterranean morning. His wrinkles tell a whole story of dark, murky, dusty lands that have been left behind through an unintended scape, probably not terror-inspired but filled with sentimental hardship. 

Obscure landscapes tinted by ocher streaks, same as his skin. He is tanned in the invariably dark shade of those that have not been exposed to the sun for leisure, but for pure survival.

Ahmed is around forty-five even though he looks much older. All these months of outdoor begging have aged him helplessly, tirelessly and almost hopelessly. 

Day in day out, the girl in the blue coat passes by. Sometimes in the early morning, sometimes at noon, sometimes at two, before regional lunchtime. Random times, always. And always with a red fabric shopper on her left hand, crumbled up into a shapeless ball. She has a floating demeanor and seems to linger directionless. Today is a windy day. Blue too. 

She smiles when she passes by the tanned beggar. 

“Good morning”. 

He smiles back. 

Probably the only smile they will exchange in this non-descript chilly morning.

The girl always spares some change for him as she leaves the shop, embarrassed by her flighty purchases. There are other people like her, also greeting the stranger every now and then. Some tip him some spare change too. Others, rather more practically, get him food. And yet a few others, quite oddly, feel so generous as to buy him frozen chickens and white rice. 

Does he even have a hob to heat those humble yet oddly selected purchases?

It doesn’t really matter. It’s the intention that counts. 

“Have a nice day, love”. 

He’s left behind a land of ocher terror, yet his genteel side always shows in his blue smile. 

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