“Bazazi, the fruit seller” by Andrés Torres-Scott, Canada

BLOG,Revolt January 22, 2012 07:00
Winner of the PenTales Revolt Contest

(Get to know Andrés better by going Behind the Story)

“I’m taking some apples and a melon.”
“That’s a lot, Madame police!” She took two plastic bags, filled them with some apples and pulled a melon.  
“Keep moving! Do you want another fine?” 
Bazizi spoke at her eyes: “Why are you doing this? I can see you are good, Madame police. I’ve got a fine; you know nobody has permits here. Why don’t you leave me alone?”  
She reacted: “It’s not personal. I don’t want to lose my job, I have a daughter and I’m on my own.” 
“I need to buy books for my sister. French books, expensive books. I’ve been pushing this cart since I was nine, and every single day for 17 years a policeman has stolen my fruits. You are doing this because they tell you! Years ago they stole my cart and threw my own fruits at me! See this scar on my mouth? Captain Hamir did it two years ago! You smell like jasmine and life, they smell like sweat and dead.”
She dropped the apple bags in his wheelbarrow and hurled the melon; Bazizi was startled but caught the fruit.  
“Thank you, Madame police!” 
She did not stop or turned back. 
Nine hours later Bazizi was smiling on his way home. 
The days’ sales were enough to afford Samya’s books; although cannot buy her the sandals this month. He was whistling I have a ball, a kids’ song, when he felt his cart stuck. He gawked to the front and found a black boot on the edge of the wheelbarrow ending on Captain Hamir’s leg. 
“I’m so sorry,” Bazizi heard before she knocked him over. The soil got into his eyes and mouth, he saw Captain Hamir taking away his scale. He knelt and looked upwards: 
“Please don’t”
But she blew his head again. Then she took an apple, left another fine in his hand, and tenderly whispered: “So sorry!”
Some people helped Bazizi to stand up. He was bleeding from his left ear and his lower lip; fruit was scattered in the ground. He cleared his eyes and saw the figures of the cops dissolving at the distance. As in a dream. 
He looked for his money basket in the cart. It was empty. He touched his pocket and felt some coins inside, grasped his bottle of water and walked away.   
He did not flap the dust from his chest and legs, he did not clean his nose or mouth, he did not pick his taqiya
He dropped three tears.  
He gave the coins to a street vendor and got his bottle filled with petrol. When the man handed the change back Bazizi was in the plaza facing the police station. It was five o’clock and there was a crowd of people, noise, and dust.  
Bazizi took out a cigarette, drenched himself on petrol, and struck a match.
He smelled like jasmine and life. 

1 Comment

  • admin

    Welcome to Day 3 of MONEY Week!
    This story, the winner of the PenTales “Revolt” contest, throws a wrench in the “Can’t Buy Me Love” sentiment of our last two stories. Andrés, with this powerful and moving tale reminds us of the cruel way in which money also means power, and how the need for money can structure society and interpersonal relationships, in a world where the oppressors are sometimes as in need as the oppressed. Thought the story is about revolt, and Bazizi, robbed of his wealth, asserts his inalienable control over himself; it is money that frames Bazizi’s situation and influences his response. This story provokes questions of the dark side of money in our lives? How does money affect our society and the ability of its members to succeed? How has money governed your decisions, for better or for worse? Does money guarantee power? How is money being put to good use and how is it wasted?