“Ha! Ha! Did you see their bloody faces?” The man’s voice booms in the silent, crowded train, making every passenger sit up and wonder. His female companion clasps her hands firmly on her chest, as they sit. The train starts rambling on battling the rain storm. It is around nine o’clock at night; still light and clear, like north hemisphere’s summers are.
The man keeps blinking his eyelids rapidly: “That was a good smack in the face!” He booms arrogantly; a bassy voice ejected out of his skinny frame. The volume is loud, the manner crass and rude. She cuddles up to him.
He kisses her sharply and passionately on the neck then booms again:
“You liked it when I smacked him didn’t you, darling?”
“D-i-d y-o-u?” Even louder booming demand.
The woman is wearing a lovely green cotton dress and her long smooth hair plaited in two long pony tails each side of the head. A mixed race woman. He is white.
She pushes him away, warily, carefully. “That is so cruel. You are so vile, Eric.”
He lets out a loud laughter that is as annoying to every passenger as it is brief. Immediately going through his pockets he pulls out a Rizla plus dry green leaves. He starts rolling the Rizla.
“Eric, you cannot smoke in here,” his female companion advises meekly.
“Who says so?”
“Eric it is against the law and there are children in the train.”
He stands up. Looms over her like a head teacher in front of naughty pupils. Wags a shaking, wiry, skinny finger.
“You!” Scowls his face. “Should not be telling me what to do, woman. You have no right.”
She shakes her head.
They glare at each other. Sigh. He lights the Rizla. Starts puffing fast. Smell of the famous illegal substance fills the moving cabin. Soon the two are high like kites. Swaying to the blues of Marijuana, they ignore the ticket inspector as he reminds them the rigours and requirements of the law.
By the time he has checked their tickets and the speech is over, the train has reached its destination. We are now standing ready to descend. She is trembling, slightly aloof and strange. Avoiding him.
He yells : “I told you I will do you once we arrive. Remember that.”
Soon as we step out of the machine, she literally runs. The train’s whistle blows while we trot down the stairs through the escalator to the main exit. She is much ahead now, approximately twenty meters away from Eric. Eric is red with fury and has menace all around his demeanour.
“I will catch you. Never mind, girl. I will!”
Further ahead Julie ducks into a taxi. Vanishes.
“I will catch you soon, Julie! I know where you live!”
We walk past as Eric continues booming, intimidating and yelping. A thin, man in light blue jeans, matching jeans jacket and a black baseball cap written NY – initials for New York. The famous cap made famous by Hip Hop music stars.
“What are you looking at?” He screams at an elderly couple whispering and innocently glancing at him.
As each of us disappear, the threatening voice ricochets through the early night.
All sorts of questions fly around. Will the man finally make his way to the woman’s house? He was making threats.
Why did she leave so fast in a taxi?
One never knows what goes through closed doors. But we can always read the signs. Signs that are there to be explored. Curiosity and unanswered questions.
A few weeks later I did see Julie and Eric walking down a London street. She was shouting and screaming at him. I could hardly hear their conversation although I somewhat caught the words: “ You are using your rent money on weed again...”
I wondered whether the drugs were behind the whole schism, antagonism and fire. According to a UN 2014 drugs report, cannabis, weed or marijuana, remains the most widely used illicit drug, with 180.6 million users (3.9 percent) of the global population between ages 15 and 64. During the past five years, those figures have increased. Every time a violent criminal act is committed in major cities, so police say, drugs are involved.
-Also published in Citizen Tanzania