Ashamed of the truth on a London bus

Published: January 20, 2011

The azure and orange London sky greeted me

London was bathed in sunlight and the sky was a beautiful combination of azure and orange hues this morning. As  I stood at my window, staring out at the city, it seemed to stare back at me. I smiled but I felt London didn’t smile back.

This morning I met a lady on the bus. A painfully prim and proper lady, the way most aged British women are. An Alice band was tucked in her hair, a basket of fruit was in her hands, a typically British floral dress peeked from beneath her typically tweed coat. As I sat down next to her, she commented on the gorgeous weather. I nodded my head and smiled.

She then gave my son a long look and said what a handsome young man he was and commented on what huge eyes he had. I smiled again and said, why thank you. Next, she asked,

“So where in Spain are you from?”

I looked at her with knitted eyebrows and said,

“I’m not Spanish. I’m Pakistani.”

The good humour which the beautiful weather seemed to have brought out in her, disappeared in a jiffy.

“Oh Lord! What a torment that country is!” she declared, with clear disgust  and turned to face the window.

There were a thousand things I wanted to tell her, I wished with all my heart to negate her but words failed me. All I did was sit there and fiddle with my fingers, once or twice I even chided my son, Zoran to sit still “or else”- and the poor thing looked at me with questioning eyes as he had been sitting still. When she was leaving, the old dame turned towards me and said,

“Good thing you left! That is no country for sane men!”

I controlled a burning desire to jab my elbow in her side and push her off the bus all this while fuming silently at myself for not having been able to say anything to her. Why did I not say anything? I could have said a million things to defend Pakistan but I didnt. And then the realization struck.

I didn’t because I didn’t want to. How does one defend a country where a murderer is glorified?


Semray Rehman

A full-time mom based in London. She has experience teaching O'level English language and tweets @SemreSuneel

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