I get off the bus at Uttara and walk into the golden afternoon. Pedestrians splash through the mirage pools on the asphalt. I get on a rickshaw.
“Number 2 of 11.”
He starts paddling.
“That’s Korean evening greeting.”
In BD rickshaw pullers are poor day laborers. They are rarely literate.
He is about my age. He talks about a man of his village who went to Korea and now sends huge sums of money. He speaks in a polite voice. I awkwardly mumble something in reply. I remember those articles in newspaper about boys bearing their costs of study by menial work. Always made me uncomfortable.
When I get off he asks me to pray for him. He has his honors exams next week. I smile and pay him nearly double fare. I hurriedly leave, ashamed.
Many months later I find him again in a dark alley during a loadsheding. He talks and I listen silently. He seems to have an unending supply of small talk. He doesn’t remember me.
“Annyeong hashimnikka. It’s goodnight in Korean.” He tells me as I get off. “I have my Honors exam next week. Then I’ll go to Korea. Pray for me, won’t you?”
I pay him the usual fare. He seems a bit disappointed but doesn’t object.
“Jal ga.” I say before I leave him in the darkness. I feel a vicious satisfaction in my chest.
This is part of a series of Micro Fiction based on the mundane slices of my daily life here in Bangladesh. Other entries in the series..