She had one of those beautiful
black faces that you only see in passing on the street - wide, luscious
, fleshy, opulent
. Her clothes were a staggering blend of brightly printed cottons and her head was gracefully crowned by a black sequined turban
. On her back, wrapped and enfolded
in a colourful scarf, was a tiny baby, asleep.
Struck by the force of their familial unity and ashamed of my own ignorant curiousity, I rocked gently with the movement of the bus, lulling myself into a participation in the cohesiveness of their fragmented immigrant lives. I wanted to draw strength and courage from the strength and courage of the refugee, that elusive optimism that whispered to my own parents, telling them that the new land will be kinder, more bountiful, more peaceful. More like a mother's back - warm and wide, to rest against and sleep in serenity.
Having been raised in post-emmigration plenty I could never have this beautiful woman's steely humanity. Nor could I trust so blindly in anyone as her baby trusts in her, played to slumber as it was by the rhytmic beating of its mother's heart. My own intimacies are all grownup, cerebral, calculated. I had to reach out to this woman and steal a shard, a memory of her essence, or I would lose the vision of her and sink again into the inertia of contentment.
"Excuse me" I said "Your baby, it's very cute".