Thursday, June 16, 2005

Yesterday, as I was talking my bag out of locker in the British Library, I found myself staring at a woman – probably 50 or 55 years old. Her hair was covered with a red scarf and a beads necklace. She suddenly looked back, and made a grimace. It was clear she didn’t like the way I looked at her. I lowered my head. When she passed behind me on her way out, I drew my body to the locker, so I would be out of her way. But then I felt her finger drawing a line over my back in a forceful, unpleasant way. I shivered. I looked back and saw her leaving the room quickly. Did I imagine this? I tried to convince myself that it must have been the tip of her leather hand bag, not a finger. But something felt ominous: she’s a voodoo queen, I thought, and you made her angry. You’re going to have trouble on the way home. You must cycle carefully and not do anything stupid.

But on the cycle home I forgot all about it. We skipped some sushi from the place in Southampton Row, then continued the usual way: the British Museum, Seven-dial roundabout, Trafalgar square, St. James Park, Westminster, Pimlico. When we reached Vauxhall Bridge road, I cycled on the left side, and tried to reach the lights before they turn green. There’s a stretch of the road which is painted green and kept for cyclists, but the cars ignored the marking and were blocking the way as usual. It’s a busy road, the least nice part of the way home. Sometime I take Lembeth Bridge just to avoid it.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided I have enough room and tried to cycle pass the cars. But there was no room to overtake them: I bumped into the side of the car that was blocking the cycle way. The driver was looking at me, angrily. I made gestures with my hands that he should not be on this part of the road. Then the lights changed. He drove straight at me, with his window open. “Ya fucking…” is all I could hear. I could see the rage in his eyes, his mouth open and shouting. Cars were using their horns. A moment later he was gone. I was all shaken, and continued cycling on the bridge. Only when I was in the middle of it I noticed S stayed behind. I waited for S on the other side, near Vauxhall station.
“I hope I left a scratch on his car” I said.
“You left a scratch on my brain. That was really stupid, why did you this? He really was driving into you”.
I didn’t know what to say.

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