Rich and empty by Mercedes Freedman

Even before dawn, we notice the paleness in the faces of those gathered in front of the market. Their ghostly eyes scare us when they follow the fruits, meats, and cheeses, unloaded from the trucks and picked up by the market sellers, who display them on their stalls to tempt us to buy.

Quickly, the air is filled with the fermenting scent of coconut and mango, the oppressive heat and the sounds of voices mixed with music played at different stalls. Those outside with the pale faces who arrive early in the day remain huddled together in the same place and silence. Their voices dissipated a long time ago as hunger emptied their bodies and taught them to stall for time.

As soon as the sharp metal screech of the gate begins to close the market, the silent ones break their silence. They run to the waste bins and hurriedly take what the market sellers’ customers do not want on their dining-tables. The pale ones stay there for a while. We take our shopping bags and make our way home having neither placated voids nor given a voice to those who dine on waste.

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