On the tube, sat next to a mother, a Brit- Indian, and her 4-5 year old daughter.
The child blurts out almost then: “mummy why is he so black?”
( yeah yeah yeah I know my complexion is special)
Other passengers – stunned or embarrassed by the child’s frankness, I guess- glue their eyes to phone, iPad or other gadget screens. Newspaper headlines suddenly became more interesting. For others, it was time to develop new found interest in years of grime on their shoes or ingrown toes nails needing laser -stare attention.
Meanwhile the poor mother’s hand cuts through the air to hold the child’s mouth shut. But before mission is accomplished the child shouts again: ” mum why is he sooo black?”
Horror. Tense silence on the carriage. The stomach rumblings of the suited passenger next to me were like thunder claps. I could almost hear the thoughts of the one across me : ” can someone shut this child up before this black man goes ape s*** on us?”
The mother mutters under her breath: ” yes yes I heard you”
Relentless child : ” so why?!”
Mother lifts child on her lap and faces her away from me as if then I will be out of earshot.
I take a sweeping look at faces around me. Those bold enough to look up wear the nervous ” I’m sorry but it’s not my child” look.
I glance at mother and child with a smile …just then the train draws up to my stop and I rise to step off to the platform.
Behind me the child goes: “mum why is your dress smelling?”
I zone out and zoom in on a verse in the bible ( I don’t know why)
It HAS to be a lovely day!!