This morning on my commute into work – whilst plugged into my iPod staring out of the window as the city stirs to life – a little boy and a man I assume is his father catch my attention.
They are seated two rows in front of me. The boy cannot be more than five by my reckoning, especially because he is dressed in the navy blue jumper that the school down the road from my stop uses for a uniform. The man has his arm around the boy who rests his head on his side. From where I am sat, I can hear them conversing in low tones. I am not close enough to make out what they are saying but in that moment I allow my mind roam.
I remember once – long ago – when I might have been that kid looking up to his father, doing life together in public oblivious of third parties looking on. Sadly, it has been more than a few years now since he and I have shared any form of emotional connections.
At the penultimate stop, the kid and his father alight from the bus. The father carries his son in one hand and lugs his briefcase and a lunch box in the other. I am left with a dull ache – a longing for days that may never return.
The number 16 bus into the city centre is packed – brim full with people heading into town. The atrocious weather of the last few days let up briefly today, and with the imminence of Christmas, everyone seems to be up and about to get the last bits of shopping done. The bus stop where I clamber aboard the number 16 is mid way between the starting terminus and the ending terminus, as such I can only find standing space, ironically next to a sign that ostensibly marks the limits of standing room. Next to me are a mother and her daughter. The daughter cannot be more than six years old and still possesses the unbridled energy and uninhibited curiosity being young and carefree brings. The atmosphere is tense – of the kind where a word out of place potentially could let loose a fire storm. There are people plugged into iPods, people huddled together in groups chatting away and people like me who are alone, with lowered eyes looking into the distance. The little girl becomes the side show though – firing off question after question to her mother, peering into people’s faces, and at some stage leaning in towards her mother and planting a kiss on her cheek whilst whispering “I love you Mum”. When she gives the wizened old lady behind me a fixed stare. I wonder how the bus scene would look like in a different country, south of the Sahara. For the first time in a few months, I remember my mother.