All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Thursday, 21 July 2005

The Bus Journey Home

Another Thursday and another attack on the transportation system in London - thankfully though, this was on a much smaller scale and no-one has been hurt.

This afternoon, I board the bus taking me home from school. It is the same type of vehicle that has been attacked on both occasions. I go upstairs and sit a row from the front, next the window. Two stops down, a man walks up the stairs lugging a holdall. He has darkish complexion - he could be middle-eastern? I can't tell. He sits next to me.

I look at him and I look at the bag. What if it is holding a bomb? I wouldn't stand a chance would I? I try to reason in my mind that he's probably harmless but I find myself jumping to extraordinary conclusions.

What if?

I take the decision to go downstairs and find myself a seat next to a largish lady. The innocent man gets off about two stations later. I feel bad for having suspected him in the first place.

Further on, a mother gets on with her two young children. They are holding balloons. She sits in front of us and about three minutes later, one of the balloons suddenly pops. The woman next to me nearly jumps out of her skin. I reassure her that it was only a balloon.

I get off the bus a little while later, relieved yet slightly shaken by the experiences I've had since initially boarding.

And now, I finally understand what Israelis have been living with for the last eleven years. Guess what? I'm scared - very very scared. The trusted London bus, so renowned around the world is no longer my friend and I miss our relationship more than I can describe.

London 2005 is not a city I know any more.


As always... Rachael said...

Wow, you decribed that perfectly! The frightened mind that suspects, versus the guilt of prejudice. The feeling of security that has been deadened enough to let these thought in.

That is probably why I, to some degree, seek out danger... it's one way to keep it from "happening to me." It provides a little insight about what might happen.

I probably would have struck up a cnversation with someone I suspected... just for a tiny bit of input into what might happen next. And also because I think that if someone's gonna blow my ass up, they should at least know my name. Cowardly terrorists. Blowing up people they know nothing about. Sending some message that is so nonsensical that no one except brain-washed screwballs like themsleves know what their real point is.

Forget everything I said. I'm sorry that you're feeling like this. I'm sorry they got in your head a little bit. Try not to let them. Shake hands with the next middle eastern person you see carrying a briefcase... do not be afraid. Suspicion invites suspicion. They've done enough damage, don't let them poison your outlook, too.

Sorry if this made no sense... sometimes things only make sense in my head.

The Teacher said...

Thanks Rachael, I really appreciate your comments.

They make perfect sense to me.

athena said...

I really, truly, deeply appreciate your comment on realizing how the Israelis feel.

I am a "USAian" and after 9/11 everyone was SOOOO upset! Like it was the worst thing that had happened EVER to humankind...ANYWHERE! Then I saw a newscast where the anchorperson had the gall to ask the President of France just what "HE was going to do about this TRAVESTY of terrorists acting on AMERICAN soil."

Unfortunately, I am old enough to rememeber the '70's when France was RACKED by terrorism...and the good 'ol USA did jack-squat!

I was embarassed to be an American for a few days, and I quit watching T.V. for a week.

I don't even know if it is possible that we (the citizens of the world) can stop hurting each other, and terrorizing each other. Whether it's physical terror, or economic terror, or political terror, it doesn't matter. But if there is no other silver lining, we are each of us, getting a chance (with the problem growing) to be on the 'receiving end' of the stick.

I hope that's not the only way we will end up caring about how the 'other' feels, long enough to pull together and create a better world.

The Teacher said...

Wise words indeed.