As we ease out of the lockdown and return to some semblance of normal life, for some (me included!) we're still processing the carnage that's been COVID-19. This virus devastated the Black and Asian communities and left many of us feeling vulnerable and suffering...
In pain we find ourselves
I was upstairs on the bus looking out the window as we crawled through the chaotic streets of Wood Green shopping city when it happened.
The woman stomped her way upstairs, I looked round and could see she was clearly upset as she sat down. I didn’t expect the wail that came out of her. Or the sobbing. She cried as if she were at home in her bedroom, wild, noisy and without reserve. She had no stiff upper lip – she was in pain. The other passengers looked at me, each other. Somebody should do something! I decided to ask her if she’s okay. I went to move but then it happened. She banged her head against the window and cursed herself. She cursed herself for all the mistakes she had made, for trusting someone- whose name I couldn’t make out, for getting upset again. She slammed her mobile against the window, slapped herself. I froze. I couldn’t go to her. I thought about why, even as I half rose from the chair. I realised I was scared. She was emotional, in my mind I thought unpredicatable. She hurt herself as if she were stone. Maybe she would hurt me. I didn’t feel great about sitting there waiting for her to calm down but it was the only strategy I could think of in the moment.
After a few minutes she fell silent. Now is the time I thought but as I turned to her – she screamed! It was a piercing, horror movie kind of scream. Followed by the cursing, the head banging and the tears again. She didn’t want anyone to approach her, offer words of comfort. She wanted to cry it out. I looked at the other passengers. Many had tears in their eyes. I realised we were all crying inside. Crying because of our inactivity, our fears, our own troubles. Who knew? She let out what many keep in. As I left the bus I thought of how we’re encouraged to keep our emotions in check. Ourselves in check. Our lives in check. We’re told how to act, dress, love. Maybe when faced with someone who breaks the rules we should sit and watch. Maybe we’ll learn something deeper about ourslves.