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The scooter

Riyadh 2000

The sound of laughter from the porch could be heard throughout the house as events of the day were discussed and dissected at the dining room table. Freshly baked cream puffs had been sent to a neighbor on a whim and had been mentioned to him during lunch at the office. This brought humiliation and shame and highlighted the lack of control he had in his own home. I sat eagerly listening, offering apologies, relieved that our conversation kept him occupied and unaware of the hodgepoge of comedy that unraveled just feet away.

Flowering plants were now in bloom and palm trees made a waving pattern over the large grass area near our home. Women walked the loop, workers delivered jugs of water in a rickety shopping cart and children played, running back and forth down the street that passed our residence. The latest gadgets and toys; pogo sticks, scooters and bikes all wound up piled near sidewalks while swimming and other play commenced. A large garbage truck chugged past pausing to collect weekly trash while laborers swept streets, trimmed bushes and maintained a well established standard of Western living.

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Yusuf parked the flimsy red and blue scooter on the porch, leaning it against a cement pillar. A large bolt clanked and rolled down past his shoes and onto the third step. Silence fell from oldest to youngest and each examined the place where Osama had carefully used a screwdriver, then tape and finally glue. A ringing clank had become customary as each of the seven siblings who were old enough, took their turn on the shiny vehicle and then watched bits and pieces loosen and eventually drop from porch to steps and sometimes into nearby plants.

Toys, bikes and the latest trends were seen as ridiculous, unnecessary and generally prohibited. Foof was determined to run next to her friends while they whizzed past on bikes but her brother was not so easily appeased. Gifts that did make their way into the home were usually socks, mittens or anything that would be deemed as essential. But this time it had been different and each night prior to the upcoming holiday, Osama sat in the well furnished living room of the compound debating and wrangling to obtain Riyal (Currency in Saudi Arabia) for Eid gifts.

Frustration finally gave way to jokes and eventually an unstoppable wave of laughter as handlebars made a loud and resounding crash. Red and blue parts rolled and scattered and were later scooped into a large plastic bag.

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