After an exceedingly strenuous day at work, the only thing you expect is a hassle-free journey to your dwelling. One minute you’re lost in contemplation; your supper, a warm bath to unwind in and relieve those fatigued muscles and your quilt might seem the only things discernible to you; the next minute you are bracing yourself for the most unpleasant and hostile environment you’ve ever encountered. I even bought a newspaper, but the right to enjoy my hard copy has been snatched away from me the minute I boarded the 207 from Ealing.
Just as I boarded the bus and took out my paper to glance over the headlines of today, a mob of more than 20 youth packed the bus. They passed by me with stern lineaments, roaming to and fro the isle of the upper deck of the bus, displaying a deplorable disregard for civility and orderly behaviour – shouting, calling one another those disparaging words often used to downgrade the black people, loudly chanting obscene songs of gangster rappers, screaming words thick with vulgarity whilst frantically smashing the bus’s windows.
With their hoods fully covering their faces, pants falling unsightly to their knees, disrespectfully smoking unpleasant ‘something’ on a bus jam-packed with women, children and elderly alike, they looked menacing and behaved just like a bunch of savage hounds eagerly waiting to pounce on and devour their unsuspecting prey.
My God, though I – unable to decide whether to stay on the upper deck or cowardly alight and wait in the cold for the next bus to arrive 15 minutes later – have they taken leave of their senses? And why are all the passengers rather apathetic to all this? I braved the way with my first choice – to sit tight.
It is quite clear, from the facial expressions of majority of the commuters that they were, to a certain extent, oppressed by the vitiated environment. They were grimacing with revulsion and a severe sense of anxiety filled the upper deck. The yobs’ evident unfriendliness even to themselves and their insufferable behaviour made every person feel somewhat uncomfortable. Some descended to the lower deck of the bus to avoid getting either robbed, abused or both, and some passengers dismounted the bus extremely displeased as their pouts revealed.
The only cloud on the horizon that seemed to be looming nearer and nearer was the threat of these hoodlums. With such deplorable behaviour and outrageous levels of aggression towards each other combined with their wreckage and unusual idiocy, their moment of strike was now a question “when” instead of “if”.
Now I can hear them speaking in an incoherent and a rather distorted vernacular. One youth, as if the howls of laughter and shrieks of terror at the back were not enough to ruin the day for every peace-loving passenger, decided to complicate matters further. That dreaded moment stole on us – unawares. Abruptly he got to his feet and headed towards a young man sitting two rows in front of me. Another youth, tried to stop him, but to no avail. He took hold of the man by the collar of his shirt and pushed him against the window coercively. The poor man was stricken speechless with terror. “Your phone!” shouted a lanky youth of swarthy a complexion as he sprang upon him, causing passengers to turn around. A violent altercation ensued, incredible as it was wicked. The people on the bus remained agape and motionless at the depravity of these persons. What a Palaver! More passengers started dismounting from the upper deck feeling that their safety had been breached.
At this heightened point of disturbingly hostile state of affairs, their confederate – a rather corpulent chap, hurriedly jumped in, trying to subdue his friends. After much persuasion, he succeeded in dragging them away. They all retreated, huddling at the back bench. They had that phlegmatic approach which was quite difficult to fathom, while the rest of the crew sat impassively watching all this, as if a man bent on crime would have any sense of sentiment or remorse. What makes one so inconsiderate and callous, I wondered?
A moment of silence! The shouts and taunts became attenuated by the sirens of the police. The driver of bus, having become aware of the shouts and disturbance on the upper deck called the police. This was trepidation of disturbance on their part, whereas a sign of relief on ours – like a very pleasant melody it played on our ears.
“Oh Sh*t, The Po-Po’s” yelled one and they were all up and descending down the stairs in the twinkling of an eye, stumbling on one another in a lily-livered attempt to get off the bus.
What a respite from hostility! Breathing now felt a tad easier, I thought to myself, as I heaved a much-needed sigh of relief.
“You shouldn’t ‘ave none o’ that mate” Blustered a feeble old man sitting right at the front, after the unruly youths got off.
“These feckin' Niggers need tae gang back tae whaur they cam frae” (these Fucking Niggers need to go back to where they came from) shouted another man in his strong Scottish accent. I am afraid I can somehow see where he’s coming from and on what his frustrations are based.
Fortunately, the police have succeeded in arresting most of the members of the group as soon as they tried to dismount the bus, but some fled away. What an ignominious end!
The truth in fact is I am ashamed to say, that these loutish, loud-mouthed and uncouth yobs were all Somalis. I, for once would have liked to remind them to keep a civil tongue in their heads, but the inevitable corollary of that, somewhat oblique statement would be violence – and that, certainly, would not have been to my advantage as I am out-numbered.
This raises the question – is this intense violence a result of that lamentable and brutal war or are we inherently stubborn? What make our youth behave in such shameful ways?