Over the past few months, I’ve been getting to know this crew of construction guys putting up a building near my apartment. It started with them happily posing for my camera when I was out running errands. Now we make it a point to connect regularly. The language difference means work on both our parts, but it’s a growing friendship that I think means something to them, and especially me.
These guys are all from Syria (most of the construction jobs are going to Syrians these days because they can be paid next-to-nothing). Like our last conversation, they shared about their home and the problems there (they use a lot of “shooting” gestures and explosion sounds to make their point). One of the guys showed me the extensive burn scars along the length of his arm. All I can do is put my hand on my heart and say “I’m sorry.”
They asked me about my family, if I had any babies, and were very concerned when I said no, and they all wanted to know why not. I said “Inshallah,” (As God wills) and they all immediately understood and nodded. Of these guys, two have kids (one has five (!!) and one has two). The guy with give kids gave a fantastic impression of a baby crying for food. The entire group was in tears.
Eventually, their ride came to take them home. When I tried to make my way down the plank with my bags of food, one of the guys did a very Syrian thing: He took my hand. He held my hand while escorting me to stairwell on the other side of the building, and continued to hold my hand as we walked down the stairs and toward the entrance.
This is what Syrian friends do.
As I left, the other guys also called out “Habibi.” From the second floor, one shouted out “I love you.” Another guy asked “Burkra?” (Tomorrow?)
It’s good to have friends here.