This is not the first time I’m experiencing subway bullying. More often than not, I don’t give a crap about it, but today it felt different.
Today it hurt more.
Usually, I don’t mind being called ‘withered’ or being mocked because my stupid glasses make me look askew. Neither do I care that they make fun of my oversized bag (I’m incapable of wrapping my lab coat properly so I just throw it inside after I take it off), wondering what on earth I might carry there – most likely half of the pig my family supposedly sacrificed last week (no, they didn’t, and no, I don’t eat pork).
They can and they do giggle all they want; they figure I cannot hear them (since I’m wearing my headphones) and that my make-believe scrolling through my Instagram feed means that I’m actually playing ‘Angry birds’ (which I’ve never done either). An old nun sitting next to me throws me a pitiful glance; she’s one of the few who understands. She’s been mocked in even more ignoble ways than I’ve been due to her unconventional attire. She feels me and surreptitiously sends some complicity signals before she leaves, which I take in as a breath of fresh air. Afterwards they move on and redirect their poisoned arrows towards the curly hipster who has a book and starts reading defiantly in front of them.
I get out of the subway and I can’t help breathing heavily. I can’t wait to get to my room and drink a hectoliter of whatever comes handy.
Back to my dorm building, it’s only me and her waiting for the elevator.
Tallish, slender, not saliently beautiful but profusely chic, she’s wearing a frilled black skirt which does terrific justice to her perfect legs. She’s sexy but decent, largely on account of the long silky overcoat she’s wearing unbuttoned, which the mild breeze keeps whisking about. Unlike me, she has a cute small handbag with a kitten embroidery. Judging by its appearance, there must be books inside – and I think it’s a safe bet to assume that there’s no room for medicine within that undoubtedly charming place, but for French or Russian novels instead, maybe some poems – Pushkin, perhaps. Once more unlike me, she doesn’t have an umbrella because she doesn’t need one. She walks like rain, looks like rain, smells like rain and she clearly seems to be that kind of girl who dances barefoot in the rain with salt and sand in her hair.
She opens the door of the elevator and lets me get in first. I forget that this elevator doesn’t work like the one in Marseille and I bluntly press two buttons consecutively, to which she smiles. She knows she’ll have to press hers again in order to get to her floor. But she doesn’t mind. When the elevator stops, she opens the door for me, smiles and says “O zi bună”, which makes me recall all the “Bonne journée”’s I got from the strangers I used to share elevator rides with in Marseille. Placebo’s “Special needs” slowly wanes and Edith Piaf shows up on stage with her lack of regret while I rush to my room, get rid of my umbrella and take a look in the mirror. I am indeed withered. Withered, plain and nothing like this girl I’ve never run into before, who happens to be, who’d have thought, one of the most beautiful beings I’ve ever met.
Back at the subway on my way to another hospital, I couldn’t help wondering: what if she had been the one sitting next to that nun today instead of me? Would she have been picked on, laughed at and mocked without reason the way I’d been?
I highly doubt it.
But that doesn’t make a difference anyway, ‘cause I’ll keep on dancing my own barefooted dance – in sunshine, with clear skies above me, no trace of rain, with those stupid glasses that make me look askew.