Goodbye to the Tea Man

In Sharq, amid the roadwork, car horns blare angrily as drivers try to navigate traffic jams to reach the First Ring Road through the intersection between Shaheed Park and a gas station. At the rear of the station, an old man in a wheelchair and a woman in a black abaya sit under a tree in a small patch of grass. Every day, they come here to spend long hours outdoors by the highway. It’s a curious sight, so I met the couple to learn more.

“I am ill and need to get some fresh air, but my house has no windows. I come here after noon prayers. I then go for Asr prayers, then return to sit here until sunset,” the man named Fakhouraldein said. He has been working in Kuwait for 30 years. His first job was with the late Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Sumait, founder of the Association of Direct Aid for Charitable Action.

“Dr Al-Sumait and his wife were a kindhearted couple. I lived with them in their home and worked at the association. When I had children, it became difficult to provide for their needs. So Dr Al-Sumait’s wife helped me get a job at the interior ministry at a higher salary as a tea man. But eight years ago, I had a traffic accident that caused my disability while vacationing back home in India,” Fakhouraldein said.

When he came back to work in the ministry, it was difficult for him to continue. His boss, however, was understanding of his health and physical condition, and allowed Fakhouraldein to stay at home until he fully recovered. “There are people in Kuwait who are really kind and have a generous hand. Thank God I have known many of them throughout my life in Kuwait,” he said.

Fakhouraldein’s wife remained silent all the time, but wept as she recalled the painful incident when her husband pulled up his pants leg to reveal the injury. “My wife has to push the wheelchair and walk down the street. The streets are all dug up, and the roadwork makes it hard for pedestrians to walk in the area. This is why we’re here. It is very difficult to move in the wheelchair,” he lamented.

Fakhouraldein is due to travel to India soon because of his condition, and is not sure if he will return.

By Athoob Al-Shuaibi

This article was published on 22/02/2018