Ahmed sat at his desk and flicked through his old research papers: years of studies, each one edging a little nearer to a cure. They were so close.
He stretched his muscles, tight from another long working day, and studied the faces in his bundle of creased photos. All were lost to him, victims of the evil that had crushed their homeland: Mother and Father, Maryam on their wedding day, their boys. Only he and little Zaina had escaped, and his work now was just for her.
Tomorrow he would drive buses, then clean offices. Zaina would graduate next year.
This picture led me, eventually, to think of the many highly qualified and skilled people from troubled countries, who have come to my country, and others like it, to escape danger or persecution in their own. I teach such people, helping them to gain the language to find work as bus or taxi drivers, waiters, shopworkers, cleaners – honest, necessary occupations. However, how sad it is that their skills as doctors, engineers or accountants will probably be wasted.
This story is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.