BENGALI IN PLATFORMS

From Rampura bazaar to the concrete jungle of Motijheel, whether a man is shirt and tied or begging for paisa, everyone looks you in the eye. A stranger to being stared at I am not.

It is different here. Until today, nobody looked at me in any way that I might enjoy. Down upon me, through me, never up to me. Oh I do miss the looks of adoration that bloom so readily on Baba and Ma’s faces. I try not to miss Bhaiya. His letter still crisp in my pocket teases me saying Ma has been telling everyone that I am friends with Queen Elizabeth, that next time I come home I will be wearing a crown!

Had this been yesterday, stood here at Piccadilly Station trying to blend in with the back wall, I might have wondered: would they still be so proud if they knew I was not a playback singer on the rise, soon to perform at the Pyramid & Par Hall with perhaps KC & The Sunshine Band, that I had lied about such things, as one would surely expect of a lowly shelf stacker in Barton Moss, lurking in the shadows, catching nobody’s eye?

I told Bhaiya about Biddu. Brown as mud on leather yet writing songs for Tina Charles! One day, he will write me my very own Kung-Fu Fighting. Bhaiya believes this absolutely.

As do I. Look at me! Dazzling in white, silver-studded glasses like Elton John, stars on my feet and lemon soles so very high. The women at Tiffany’s will mistake me for John Travolta I should think! I can almost smell the love in the air, the winds of change.

I feel his eyes on me from across the platform. A strange looking fellow. His hair is neither skin nor suede, more like a dollop of brown ice cream on a deathly pale cone. Thick spectacles. Yellow flowers by his side. Gay I think. I cannot read what it says on his t-shirt but I see the word MURDER. He looks like he has problems.

I like to think he feels like he belongs to something too.

By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff:
Steven Morrissey/ Stephen Street