A love of youth Chapter 8
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A love of youth
I decided to leave Marseille. I wanted to go to Paris. Shenaz was sad to be separated from me and Akbar. The train left the station at nine. I sat in a compartment where several people had already taken place. It was the time when boys had long hair. My new cut draw for me looks filled with admiration. A middle-aged couple was sitting on the sofa in front of me. Next to them, near the window, a young man dressed in a suit was lost in thoughts; on the left, a business man with his attache case on his knees and a newspaper wide open gave curious looks to me. Next to him, another individual with a serious expression and a hat looked straight ahead. I was alone on a big sofa with my son who was sleeping in my arms. The train continued its course a long time before Akbar woke up. He was thirsty. I put my hand into the basket to take the bottle that Shenaz had prepared this morning. Akbar drank all his milk before falling asleep. The train ran for hours. I looked at the big trees in the forests and the landscapes while trying to forget everything. When we crossed another train coming the opposite way, the infernal noise made Akbar jump. During this long journey, the old couple hardly exchanged a word. The man spent his time sleeping and snoring while the woman watched out of the corner of her eyes. She moved her lips all the time. I understood that she didn't stop praying. She looked at me several times and I smiled to try to get her sympathy and to start talking with her, imagining I would feel less alone. She continued to look at me with disregard. She did not appreciate this journey. I tried to fall asleep. I was tired and had not slept during several nights. Many thoughts went through my brain. I had little money. I already foresaw the expenses that waited for me in such a big city as Paris. I was concerned.
I had confidence that the Providence was not going to abandon me in difficult moments. I had to be able to do it alone. I would find a way to do.
What could happen to me in a big city? All alone, without money, without work, without lodgings, without protection, I didn't know how I was going to bail me out. I had to buckle down. My child was my reason to live. It was my duty to take care of him. I was ready to make it.
I didn't know Paris and had a slight idea of the kind of life that waited for me. Could I find work easily? Should I regret to have left home to throw me so brutally into the world? My life became difficult. How could I have arrived there? It was useless for me to regret my silliness. It was not the moment. I needed courage to face the future.
The train continued to run the same rhythm and the passengers who were in the compartment had not moved. The old lady was asleep next to her husband who still slept. The man who was on my left side was reading. He held a voluminous book wide open in front of him. The splendor of the day made me look outside the window. My eyes crossed the eyes of this young man. He also looked at me. I should look ugly at the state I was. I had no time to make me beautiful. My short hair looked strange when I looked at me in a small mirror that I took off my purse.
While approaching Paris few people remain in the compartment. The young man who was near the window approached me and talked. I was happy that he valued my company. He was called Alain and was from Mauritius. He had gone to England to work as nurse in a hospital. He had accepted this job he didn't like to leave his island and search for a job as many of his friends did. His intention was to help his parents who depended a lot on the money he sent them. He had already begun to work in restaurants, in cafés, but as his papers were not up to date and he had no visa nor residence permit he always ran the risk to have some problems with the justice. He had some problems with his boss who had threatened to denounce him to the police. He had preferred leaving the country to avoid problems. He had spent some days in Marseille and was going to Paris.
I spoke little of myself. I must admit that everything was not good to say. When Akbar woke up, I changed him into his nappy, gave him his bottle and stayed at the window. Alain wanted to help me. I thanked him. I could take care of my son. He asked me if he could stay in my company in Paris. He didn't know anybody and it would not bother him to help me to find accommodation and to be reassured that I had a lovely place to stay. I wanted to make him understand that it was useless and that I was able to manage. He insisted and swore that his intentions were honest and that he was going to disappear from my life as soon as I would find accommodation. I had asked for nothing, but since he insisted it, I didn’t refuse.
Akbar was attracted by the splendor that came from the window. His eyes sparkled with joy. The train stopped at the station. Many people were on the sidewalks, bumped into each other to enter into the compartments. Some time in a station Alain went to buy something to eat. I gave him money so that he also bought for me.
The time was heavy. The obscurity invaded the compartment and announced the approach of the night. It was cold. The sky was overcast. I wrapped Akbar in a double knit cover and put him his cap. It started to rain. The train slowed down. The lights were lit. Outside, the landscapes dimmed in fog. Nothing was perceptible. The night approached and swallowed everything. The passengers got ready to get off. I took Akbar in my arms and tightened him to me. I was in a hurry to leave this train and feel free. I also needed to move my legs. Alain transported my luggage. The passengers bumped into in the narrow passageway that drove us to the exit. Alain walked in front of me to pave the way for me and protect me.
Original title : Un amour de jeunesse©Kader Rawat
Translated by ©Kader Rawat April 2013