Man on a bus (flash fiction)


In 1989 I was standing at a bus stop somewhere near Crouch End, London.

A man who wore a Kurdish baggy trouser and spoke a Kurdish Iraqi dialect stopped passer byes and tried to speak to them. He appeared to be hysterical and out of grief he was laughing rather than crying. I recognized the condition; it was a psychotic reaction to shock and depression.

His incomprehensible babbling and his behaviour on the bus provoked a group of young men and they jumped on him and beat him. As he was being punched the bus drove away and he looked at me from the window with a mix of condemnation and sadness.

He perhaps expected me to act like a fellow villager or perhaps I was another hotchpotch image of London. In shame I turned my eyes from his gaze. I was an Iranian refugee and I should have known better.

When I went home I guessed that he was from Halabja, Iraq where a month earlier Saddam Hussein threw poison gas bombs and wiped out many Kurdish villages. Saddam possibly killed the man’s entire family.

I knew the cascade of events that put lost men like us on streets of London.

One day men of power thought that an ayatollah is a saint or a man of God.

One day those men recognized the consequence of empowering the ayatollahs.

One day they gave a mad man chemical weapons to stop the ayatollahs.

Next day the Ayatollahs killed my family.

Following day the mad man killed the Kurdish man’s family.

It took thirty seconds for the bus to drive away. Through a window and with me standing at the bus stop looking at angry fists and a mass of bodies crushing a bruised man I caught a gaze.

In a flash we looked at each other and in shame we knew who we were.


Einan by doodle_juice
Einan, a photo by doodle_juice on Flickr.

From my DaGod school. Ein is an Arabic letter of alphabet that has entered into Persian. Noon is a letter which also means bread. Einan which is the combination of these two letters means identical. Symbolically an Arab letter superseding Noon shows that Arabic ideology is overriding basic necessities of life i.e. bread. It is a bankrupt ideology and culture where one sacrifices basic human needs for the sake of redundant ideology.

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