But the mid-level staff made sure that the letters did not reach the owner of the company. It was a futile exercise.
As time passed, I learnt more about the owner. One day I saw him in his car and ran towards it to express my grievances. I knew the owner had a soft spot for Nepalis, and he listened to me intently.
By this time, I had already learnt Arabic so was able to communicate well. The five other Nepalis with me also spoke up. He was kind and assured us that our concerns would be addressed once he was back from his work trip to America.
Our mid-level supervisors did not take it well that we had bypassed them, and gone directly to the boss. They started torturing us mentally, and stopped paying even the salary that was lower than the contracted amount. They were rude to us, and made us miserable.
But as I said, I am the type that will fight for my rights. There was no other way to stop the mistreatment, so one morning at 4AM, the five other Nepalis and I locked all the gates of our company, trapping workers inside.
The supervisors called the police, and we were detained. It was only after a few weeks that the owner came, and set us free.
He listened to our concerns, and fired the supervisors. It turns out they were ripping him off, and also cheating us by taking a cut from our salaries. The supervisors were also expats, some with families in Saudi Arabia. Their visas were canceled, and they were sent home.
The owner was on our side, and the reason he had a soft corner for Nepalis was that previous workers from Nepal had helped his company’s business take off and expand internationally.
We finally felt listened to. Our salaries were restored to the contracted amount, and we finally got our driving licenses. As a full time heavy truck driver, I felt happy. Things are going to be better now.
For the next few years, I worked hard at the company, driving my food truck regularly to Qatar and UAE. We got an extra bonus of 300 riyal after each trip. My truck had a small rest room with a small kitchen. These were long drives, up to 4,000km roundtrip and could take days.
It would get boring on the long highway, and we Nepali drivers would talk to each other on group calls. It was a way to pass the time, and also keep ourselves awake. When not chatting with other Nepali drivers, I would have the music on.
There were other allowances for heavy truck drivers, my monthly salary was raised, and my savings were adding up.
My dream of buying land and building a house in Nepal was getting closer with every kilometre I drove. For a simple man like me, it was all I could ever ask for. I worked everyday, saved every penny.