To our friends in Dubai.
I woke up cold, I’d left the air-conditioning on all night.
I spent the night in a tiny room, with eight other men, no windows.
I had coffee and a croissant for breakfast.
I prayed for food that never came.
I kissed my husband on the cheek, hugged Janey and walked past the cleaner.
I wondered if my family are alive.
I felt a blast of heat on my way from the front door to the car.
I felt dry heat on the way to the bus.
I turned on the air-conditioning.
I rested my head on the seat in front and tried to sleep.
Drove through the compound and past the swimming pool.
Noticed the heatwaves coming off the dustbowl where we play cricket.
I passed a busload of men, heads down.
I saw a four-wheeled drive, a blonde woman at the steering wheel.
I caught one man’s eye.
She looked at me.
I wondered, momentarily, what must his life be like?
I wondered, momentarily, what must her life be like?
And then I accelerated.
And then, she was gone.
I pulled into the Dubai Mall car park.
Like yesterday and tomorrow, we drove past the Dubai Mall.
I again marvelled at its enormity.
My cousin helped build it.
I left a man in overalls with instructions to clean the car.
I pulled on my blue overalls and began shifting concrete.
Couldn’t decide out of Armani Kids or Burberry for Children.
I shifted concrete.
A smiling man gave me some advice.
The foreman shouted at me.
I used the computerised map to find Hamley’s.
I moved concrete from one spot to another.
I bought a doll for Janey.
I wondered if I could ever send money home.
I bought an ice-cream and wandered outside.
A man from a charity brought food.
It melted onto my hand.
I was too far back in the line to get any.
So I threw it away.
So I walked away.
And watched beautiful fountains dance to violins.
And felt my tongue dry in my mouth.