Tuktuk! Tuktuk? Ah, how he asked, and how he smiled at each of the foreigners passing by—smiling regardless of the countless silent rejections and regardless of the drivers who surrounded him and shouted the same words, waving their hands and jostling their motorbikes—how he bared his white teeth in one good-natured grin after another, widening his eyes, nodding to his tuktuk, revving the engine, for hours and hours without a single fare. He met wandering eyes and waved as if to long-lost friends, fought all the thirst and hunger inside his body, breathed the poison fumes rippling in the heat, and wiped the sweat from his forehead as the sun climbed to the top of the sky.
How many years, tuktuk driver, have you stood on this sidewalk and sought the fares of tourists? Each night he dreams of tourists begging him for a lift on their hands and knees, and in the future he can see a legion of his own tuktuks patrolling the streets, each cushion in the carriage lined with a golden trim. Success, limitless wealth, warehouses ringing with mounds of coins. His children try on their flashy clothes in the mirror, laughing together with his beautiful wife, and his house rises into the blue sky like the sun…
It happens in a moment, but nobody notices it because it’s happened too many times before: one becomes what one mimics. A new chicken flaps its wings beside the greasy motorcycle wheels, utterly confused, far more confused than chickens usually are, until a boot kicks it out of the way, and a new driver seizes the bike, the carriage, and even the family, for himself. A cloud of white, floating feathers is all that’s left of the old chicken, who forgets that he was once a man. As fresh young driver seats himself on his new ride he catches the eye of a tourist and speaks the words that may very well doom him to transformation in the future: