Column this week ALLYUH HAPPY?! SHIIIIT...
I had great plans for a column this week. Really I did. Of course, the car bombs have completely done away with these lofty literary plans of mine. Something about a radical plot to blow up London’s West End and the main airport in Glasglow sort of demands all of your journalistic attentions.
I’ve had occasional calls (and a lot more of the much cheaper texts) about my safety since Friday. I woke up that morning to hear that a suspected car bomb had been found and successfully diffused outside the Tiger Tiger night club at Piccadilly Circus. Famous for its ladies’ nights and atrociously expensive drinks, certain newspapers happily calculated the number of patrons in the club at the time and wrote authoritatively about the plot to blow up 1,700 partygoers. I got dressed for school, stopping long enough to tell my housemate about what had happened, primarily to let her know that transport was being severely effected, and not because I felt particularly threatened.
Even during the day I was pretty detached. I realise that I’ve become nonchalant about things, the way all human beings do, I guess. Terrorism and its various manifestations is such a perennial topic here that you become somewhat desensitized. So I went about the day attending class, eating lunch – essentially doing the things one does almost without thought – until I listened to the radio again and heard that two more suspected bombs had been found in Park Lane and Oxford Circus. Further investigation would prove that only the Park Lane vehicle – again a Mercedes – actually was a potential explosive device. But walking after school, on what was the sunniest and warmest day for the week, I suddenly felt a sense of insecurity.
I’d made plans to meet friends for drinks and the pub where we were to meet was two stops away on the tube from Oxford Circus. This sounds ridiculous. Even as I type this I am aware of the nonexistent threat implied in the sentence. I was not there and at no point in time was I anywhere near a place of danger. But listening to that newscast it became apparent what I did not realise before. Which were the places of danger? Walking along doing the things I must out of obligation and habit, how would I know if my safe, untargeted world had changed? I suddenly became aware of this salient and obvious fact: I wouldn’t.
I remember after the 9/11 attacks in the US everyone’s inbox was full of stories of lucky Trinis who had narrowly escaped death either by being cunning or being late. God was looking out for us again, as always, so we cool. Last Friday, wearing my first vest for the season and walking in that lovely, rare sunshine, I hustled to the London Bridge station to make my way home. London Bridge, I remember thinking, unimpressive to look at but iconic. Its destruction would make a powerful statement. And I hustled some more. As the train pulled out of the platform I felt a palpable relief. Silly, yes, melodramatic definitely. But despite all that, I was relieved.
I called one of the friends I was supposed to meet and told her I was going home. “Why,” she asked and I explained that I felt I should, that considering the fact that no one knew what was going on that I felt home was the best option. She was puzzled. “I’m from Sri Lanka,” she said. “This sort of thing happens all the time. If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”
She went for drinks and I went home to answer texts and read, feeling relatively safe in the fact that here where I live would not be a target. Who would want to blow up a bunch of second and third generation Jamaicans and a fire station that was mentioned on Bridget Jones’ diary? By the next day I’d have to ask myself, well, who would have thought that someone would want to bomb Glasgow airport? And yet someone did, quite determinedly.
So of course this raises all sorts of questions about personal safety and security. But with the passing of time these are questions that one doesn’t answer or answers quite glibly or matter of factly because they are questions you don’t have the answer for. And you realise that you don’t want to know the answer really