Ok. Just returned from my friend’s place. Had quite a nice time, actually. The others were just one other, a girl from Kuweit. We chatted and watched the movie. It turns out that we listen to the same kind of music and she also watches hindi movies.
I left at 11.30 pm, since I had such a long way to walk back home. The actual journey to and from my friend’s place was actually one of the highlights of this night. On the way to her place, I walked half the way with a group of drunken guys, some of whom kept stepping on the road just as a car was coming. The roads were quite deserted, and I was quite expecting the worse to happen, given the nature of my present company. But nothing serious happened; none of them got killed though many a car had to stop abruptly whenever anyone of these madmen decided to step onto the road.
The rest of the journey was quite uneventful but I saw more people; tonight being Saturday night, nothing was going to stop people from partying.
On the way back, my journey was quite solitary and uneventful. I saw no one but this did not spook me as I quite like walking alone. The only thing that happened on my way back was when I was crossing one road and this guy, who, along with his friends, was crossing the road from the opposite side, suddenly stopped and tapped me on the shoulder, as if I were one of his long-lost friend. Weird. I just gave him one of my now-famous Looks and continued my way home.
Being always on the look-out for racial discrimination, I’m not sure if this behaviour qualifies as such. I really have a twisted mind: I will always walk on the side of the road where there might be drunk people or other potentially dangerous or threatening-looking individuals walking just in front only to see how they behave when they see me. I frightened my Vietnamese flatmate the other night. We’d gone to Leeds City Centre, just to walk around, since it was Christmas Eve and we had nothing to do. Life is truly terrible when you are a stranger in a strange land. So we wandered for some time, aimless, directionless.
So the streets were quite deserted since the people, I guess, were quite comfortably ensconced within their nice and warm homes. Where we were walking, there was no one, except for a group of drunk men. My Vietnamese friend started to decelerate but I increased my speed till I reached them. For some time, I just walked along with them, and they were not silent, oh no. They were indulging in that random, arbitrary merry-making and nonsense-saying drunk men seem to indulge in. But they didn’t say anything to me, which quite pleased me. I guess that there is this part in me that absolutely trusts human nature to be what everyone agrees it should be, that is, human, humane, and civilised. Of course I know this is bull, but then, I always want to put this to the test.
The fact is that I’ve never seen myself as part of a minority. Here, in Britain, you are made aware of this fact. My skin colour, which I never once questioned in my life, becomes the principal thing people around here notice and the one thing that immediately shapes the nature of their interaction with me. Mauritius is not an ideal society, but the very nature of its varied population, who hail from Europe, Africa, India and China, has made it impossible for me to see myself or my skin colour as being superior. Certainly, it has made me see myself as unique, but unique in the way each colour of a rainbow is unique. I’ve always perceived myself as one amongst many, and have always believed in unity in diversity. Obviously, that’s maybe a tad too optimistic and idealistic, but it has shaped the way I see the world I live in and more particularly, the way I see myself.
To come back to the point I want to make, I do not see myself as a minority and I behave as if colour has no meaning at all for me. This is why I do not specifically restrict my immediate interactions (unlike some others)to people who look like me or who are of the same colour or origin as I.
Anyway, I do not go about trying to provoke anyone into discriminating against me but I am mentally and physically prepared for that. I refuse to restrict my behaviour along a certain paradigm just because “you’re not supposed to be like this” or “you should not mix with them”.
If the human psyche has the capacity to hate and recoil from what it perceives as being alien and Other, it also has the capacity to see the uniqueness of the human soul that shines equally in all of us, beyond class, colour and creed. Do we need special X-ray glasses for that? No, we don’t. All we need is a mind and a heart in the right place. I’m not really sure I do have them, but I like to think that I’m working on it.
With those words, I now go to try and add something to my poetry assignment. No, it’s not an assignment where I have to write poetry. I’m critiquing Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry in the light of two premises: 1) the poet’s exploration of language in poetry and 2) the social relevance/impact of poetry.