It’s late and I’m on a practice again to Bristol. I’ve simply achieved a discuss a e book I labored on, about race and immigration and I’m sporting the identify of the e book – The Good Immigrant – throughout my sweatshirt.
It’s late and I’ve spent the night speaking at folks, so I’ve purchased myself a burger and a beer to maintain me firm on the two-hour journey residence.
The practice is packed till Reading, because it at all times is, after which deathly quiet. Bored and with a necessity to remain awake, I placed on a crap Jason Statham movie, good firm for the lengthy journey. The action-packed thrills will maintain me awake as a result of if I go to sleep and miss my cease, I’m ending up in Swansea.
The additional the practice will get from London, the extra it empties out. I don’t actually discover it at first. I’m too engrossed within the movie.
Around Swindon, 3 males get on the carriage shouting loudly. They sit round me and speak. I realise, taking a look at them, and round, and up from my Jason Statham movie, that the carriage is empty, apart from me and for them. They are carrying beer cans and speaking in that top octave slur that carries most lads residence from the pub after closing time. One of them appears to be like at me and my sweatshirt then will get up and strikes nearer.
As he stands, he says: “There’s no such thing as a good immigrant.” I hear him as a result of I’ve lowered the amount of the Statham movie. Something concerning the encroachment of house has made my pores and skin itchy. Almost like their placement on the seats nearest to me when the whole empty carriage is on provide is a purposeful transfer.
I immediately really feel terrified. Why is he speaking about me? Is he speaking in a approach that’s designed for me to listen to? Is he having a personal dialog together with his mates? About my sweatshirt? I mute the movie, watching it in silence whereas I hearken to their trade.
Aside: watching an action-packed Jason Statham movie on mute is a wierd expertise.
“What you saying?” one among his mates says. I clock the place all of them are. The authentic commentor is throughout the aisle from me. The pal who simply spoke is sitting in entrance of me. A 3rd individual is behind me.
“That guy’s jumper. It says good immigrant. No such thing.” He laughs. “Maybe we should show him how we treat immigrants round here,” the individual behind me says. “Nah, CCTV mate,” says the person throughout the aisle.
What the hell? Are they threatening to beat me up, however backing down due to CCTV? I watch Jason Statham shoot some folks.
“Why would you wanna be proud of being a good immigrant? Makes me sick. I wanna knock the guy out,” the individual behind me says. “Yeah we should sort him out,” the individual in entrance of me says. “Leave him, you’re pissed,” the individual throughout the aisle says.
The solely individual I can see is the man throughout the aisle. I’m terrified. I’m pressed solely towards the window, attempting to get my physique as small as attainable. I cannot transfer. I can’t transfer. My toes need to thrash out. I need to run. But there’s something preserving me rooted to the spot. Fear. Fear that I have no idea how you can be on this scenario. If one among these males determined to type me out, I wouldn’t know how you can defend myself. I wouldn’t know the best option to take up house.
It’s only a sweatshirt, I feel. I can put on no matter sweatshirt I need, political slogan or not. But sitting there, alone on the practice, with out the arrogance to only rise up and transfer away, I really feel afraid.
After 30 minutes, they head to the bar and I collect my issues and transfer to part of the practice the place different persons are. I’m very awake now. I cannot be waking up in Swansea. I really feel like I haven’t breathed in an hour. As I get off the practice in Bristol at 1.30am, I feel what may need occurred. I don’t know how you can defend myself.
To be continued…
Nikesh Shukla from theguardian.com