|vi: This Is London
“If thou seest the oppression of the poor,
and violent perverting of justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for
He that is higher than the highest regardeth...”
– Ecclesiastes 5:8
London Town. London City.
Jai smiles at the thought.
It ain’t a happy place.
There is another world behind the proper, metropolitan exterior. An experience sticky and hazardous to health, like the gunk behind your kitchen sink.
Outside, sin reigned down in the form of water – heavy, as if the skies were ready to fall.
I’m looking out at the world outside my window, and watching the colours run.
The gentle rocking of the train reminded Jai of his journey to Lisses three years before. He thought it strange to be back where he’d started. This was the last place on earth he wanted to be. Despite the absurdity of it, he thought the feeling of happiness he’d experienced with his friends back in France would last forever. Maybe he’d been ignoring his reality, if not to block out the prospect of returning to the life he’d tried to escape from – a world of promiscuous adolescents, weed, stabbings, teen-pregnancies, Five ‘O’… Bullshit…
A nonsensical message etched on the adjacent window flickered as the train slowed into another station, exhaling loudly. Melancholy held him closer.
He couldn’t wait to get home.
* * *
Jai pulled on the cord of his headphones and looked up.
The young man clearly seemed to recognise him. Confusion held Jai’s face for a moment until the boy spoke again:
“Raaaatid! Ow you been, man?!”
This time it clicked.
“Yeeeeea fam! You cool?”
“Boy, man neva even recunize you cuzza your hair, star!”
Michael peeled back his hood to tousle his curly mane, grinning.
“Yea I need a trim.”
They touched fists.
“You look bare different, man.”
“I know, blud, I know. So wot’s good, man? Wot you been on?”
“Nutten, boy. Just college an’ work, innit.”
A chain of boys streamed from the back of the carriage, bounding and apparently excited, each one clattering open the carriage door as they came through it. “Inspectors,” one of them warned simply, before disappearing through the emergency exit at the other end of the cab.
Two uniformed ticket inspectors swiftly followed, but not before Michael made his departure.
“Jai,” he said, bumping fists once more, “man’s gone, yea; ain’t got a ticket. Likkle more.”
Reengaging his hood, Michael melted into his clique and swung through to the other carriage.
Jai fished in his pocket for his ticket and silently held it up as the officers rushed past.
He leaned against the window once more, screwing the headphones into his ears and setting loose his mind to wander. By the time he got home he wouldn’t have time to study, he’d have to go straight to bed. He glanced at his watch. 10:30. Sébastien and Fabian would be running now. The apartment would be empty so Nathalie might’ve come over to spend the weekend to make the most of the peace and quiet and to spend a little time with her brother. Had he been there, Jai would most likely have been helping her study.
But instead, I’m back in this fuckin shit hole.
With his headphones on, he could have said that out loud. He promptly threw France out of his head. The next stop was his anyway.