I wrote most of this while taking a train in Paris, the same day that the Parson’s Green explosion happened.
Stylistically, it’s written as a stream of consciousness, and in present tense – a little different perhaps to what you are used to reading here, but bear with me…
I’m on the train to meet friends arriving at Charles de Gaul. It’s been a depressing news day. Well, most days are – between earthquakes, hurricanes and nuclear missile launches. But today’s news, in addition to being depressing, feels like a starkly relevant news day. Relevant in that there was a bomb on the London tube this morning. Relevant in that this morning there was a knife attack on a soldier in Chatelet train station in Paris. Relevant in that I’m on a train from Chatelet to the airport.
I look around and imagine that the tube in London might have looked much like this – different languages, different accents maybe, but in a big cosmopolitan city such as these two – maybe not. In this carriage packed full of faceless strangers, I remind myself that everyone here is an individual, someone with a story, a life, in the same way those people in Parson Green were. In fact, it’s hard to think about it when I apply it to the millions affected by the other news stories this week, those in far-off places like Myanmar and Syria affected by violence dished out by other humans and those in the Carribean Region and Central America suffering from nature’s violence. All strangers – all humans.
If a bomb went off right now in our carriage what fabric of humanity would be torn? And if I had to make a run for it or was injured which of these people would cease to be strangers?
Fear licks through me, pushed away by that ever-comforting “It will never happen to me.” But it has happened to someone – lots of someones. This fear is what the bad guys want us to feel.
That really tall guy, head and shoulders above everyone else has a birds-eye view of the carriage. Would he see an “incident” first?
Pink-sweater girl slides into his seat and her dad sits beside her. Her reward is a cuddle then she goes back to thumb sucking and twiddling while he takes out his phone and dives in.
As I leave the train, I realize I’m not scared, nor ever was, really. I was curious. My mind pondered the “what ifs” but my heart rate stayed steady and my mind rational. I didn’t really suspect anyone, nor blame anyone, nor hate anyone.
Many have been injured today and many more have justifiably been frightened today. [Referring to the day of the Parsons Green bomb -by the time I get this published it will be in the past.] I hope for the speedy recovery of those hurt one way or another. But I don’t have to be scared, not at this moment in time or space. There is no point in being scared. I refuse to let the rot spread – that rot of fear, hatred and violence that was planted on a train in London.
I threatened to get scared, in fact when I stared at the mended puma bag it was threat level “critical” but fear didn’t get me. I pulled out of that skid safely and now I feel victorious.
We all have our stories – let’s write them without prejudice, hatred or fear. Let’s show our humanness.