Uncle

His boss doesn’t know his name.  He cooks, cleans and builds during his 14+ hour days.

He is 64 years old.  He has two wives and seven children.  He goes to sleep at midnight and wakes at 4am.  I saw him make his bed on a table.  The same table he had served dinner on earlier that evening.

He wears the same checkered three-quarter pants every day.  I saw him wash them under the tap, he wore a sarong while they dried in the sun.

He smokes bidis.  He drinks ten cups of tea every day. When he takes a break, he sleeps upright in a chair or watches kungfu movies in the house.

He persistently offers drinks and meals to guests.  In between cooking and serving dinner, he entertains guests by playing the drums and singing. He accepts a cigarette or a small glass of arrack in return.

He is thin but strong.  His skin is burnt from the sun but he is resilient in the heat.  I have watched him but will never truly know him.

His name is Abdul Wahub.

In Sri Lankan culture ‘Uncle’ is used to refer to older males as a sign of respect.

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