My niece hails the unmarked cab. Deftly, she adjusts my hejab. Her beauty astounds me.

‘How can you tell which are taxi drivers?’ I ask in broken Farsi.

‘Look to their faces.’ She signals with an indigenous up-nod.

I look. Our driver has grey skin, Sisyphic eyes and twilight stubble. We get in, surrounded by yellow, acrid, city smog. The driver breathes this endlessly: at work; at home. From the backseat window I spot the faces of other Tehran taxi drivers. So many. All grey. One stares back. I look away, downwards.

We alight in the fresh, cool, mountainous streets overlooking north Tehran. Ten kilometres along costs two pounds and thirty pence. Two kilometres up had cost fifty thousand pounds. From our balcony, I watch the cabbie leave to fill his children’s bellies with rice and their lungs with death.


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