Saturday, 25 May 2013

Baby, Baby

When she took the coins I offered there was the inevitable disappointment flickering in the depths of her eyes, injustice even. A sense of having been hard done by, denied a greater stake of that which could be hers too. Should be hers. The hand remained outstretched, fingers limp in empty space, the gesture pleading for more. For pity's sake, more.

“Baby, baby”, she said.

In her voice there were the thick swirling currents of multi-layered geo-political currents, of a bittersweet passage of history; of lands possessed and lost, repossessed then lost again many times over. The many shifting tides of forgotten, now faceless, restlessness. Now she was here in a small town in the west of France presumably a long way from home in the bitter cold, standing in a street populated by a thin scattering of well wrapped people whom cared little for her.

Momentarily I wondered about offering her a meal someplace warm and welcoming. But that was not what she wanted. She desired what she assumed I had, and that which she felt should also be hers by right, despite the indifference of the tides of fate. It amounted to more than a meal; it was perhaps a whole life, a different history, a different outcome even. Maybe a place of her own, with solid, dark time-stained wooden furniture, with a print of some eternally sunny sea-kissed beach hanging on the wall, food in the larder, and outside a patch of land thick with vegetables and fruit trees, and a husband who wiped his feet at the front door. All those things remained stubbornly beyond the reach of a few coins emptied from a stranger’s pocket.
“Baby, baby”, she said.

She took the coins anyway, perhaps it was what she had been told to say.

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