When the empty cans are ditched and the air has turned still, Weeping Juan heads for the valley at the bottom of the hills where he and his group have been slowly reclaiming bags of concrete, forgotten tools left for the weekend and bits of steel.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
They are building permanent homes for people made to feel temporary behind a curtain of trees no visitor ever looks past because they have never seen its value. When homes are ready, he will stock the chest freezers with pre-cooked meals – but that is work for another night.
The sun starts to rise on the achy but proud group as they ride their pushbikes out of the valley, through the trees and make their way into Weeping Juan’s kitchen. Everyone knows their job and swings swiftly into action, taking turns to help get the kids ready for school and cook breakfast. Everyone eats together in amongst the chaos, some people standing, others sitting on the kitchen table, every conventional surface used to house something else. Others are turning up at random times and making a beeline for the fridge. There is so much joy.
When the kids have gone to school and the crew have left for the day, Weeping Juan leaves the house, down the street away from the hills. He soaks up the sun, taking a nap under a textbook. He dreams of opening his own cafe, feeding everyone else in the area and giving the kids a new place to play after school.
Walking home in time to cook dinner for the kids and whoever else drops in, Weeping Juan spots you from across the street and disarms you with his smile. He pauses, swings back to whip out bolt cutters from his backpack. You have stopped in your tracks to watch. He uses them to cut the most perfect rose you have ever seen, so when he hands it to you, looking right into your soul, you have forgotten your own name.
Written by Haneen Martin Mahmood and Isobella Caruso