Con-duct

She was, capable.

I wanted to show her I was elevated.

“That’s so lovely of you.” I gave her a big smile to make sure she knew I was not racist. I may be elderly but God no, I am not a racist. I’m enlightened.

I helped her with her suitcase. I placed it on the other seats because there was no longer space where you could put suitcases in our train carriage. The last train scheduled had been canceled so this train was filled to the brim. I smiled at the white old woman to assure her that I was good black person. I didn’t want her to think that I was a victim of slavery. I was different. Nigerians don’t need their pity.

We had the four sitter row. Two seats each between a table. Our luggages had filled up two seats so we sat on the other two next to one another. She looked like a lovely black girl. I wanted to talk to her.

We had to seat next to each other. Which was alright I guess. I would just try and read my book and not talk to her. Mind my own business.

“So” I started off, “Where are you off to?”

She answered, “Italy.”

I knew Italy so asked, “Milan?”

She shook her head, “Florence.”

I tried to keep my answers short. I really wasn’t in the mood to have a moot conversation. It wasn’t like I was going to ever see this woman ever again. Why was she trying to talk to me? And it wasn’t as if she was those American people that like to talk, talk and talk. She was British. I had to seat next to the one British person that talks. Did she not see me reading?

“Florence is lovely. So lovely.” She was excited, “Have you been?”

I shook my head, “No, it’s my first time.”

“You need to visit the Basilica of San Lorenzo.” She said. I closed my book and started to pay attention to her.

“The what?” I quickly unlocked my phone and opened up the notes app to type out what she said. I was always so forgetful and she was actually mentioning things I was interested in.

She was so sweet. She was interested in what I said. I started to mention a few more attractions about my favourite European city. Florence was always so beautiful, especially at this time of the year. Ahh, too bad I was heading to Portugal.

Okay, I admit it. I had misjudged the elderly woman. Not as entertaining as my book but we weren’t going to spend too much time together, the train journey was only thirty minutes long. She spoke about her kids and husband. She talked about how her son had just graduated and come back home without any job prospects. I don’t remember how we got into the conversation of homemaking but we did.

“Do you know you don’t need an iron to make your clothes straight?” I told the girl, “Just hang it before it gets dry. Make sure the clothes dry completely flat.”

I nodded. I liked how she was resourceful, and intelligent. She didn’t appear as a typical elderly white person. I know, I feel bad for thinking that way.

“Brexit. All the politics about what should be done and so forth.” I felt it was safe to bring the topic up, because was such a lovely dark girl. She’d been agreeing with me all through. I knew she’d be on the right side. The correct side.

I nodded. From the little I knew of her I believed she was enlightened. She’d been speaking truths throughout the whole conversation. I knew she was going to be on my side of it.

“I think the best thing for all of us is to get out of the EU. Don’t you think? The old days were so much simpler. And we were stronger.” I started off.

First, the assumption that I lived her was weird. I was a Nigerian, living in Nigeria. Had I changed my accent to fit hers? Or did she not recognise an accent? And no, to my amazement we had complete opposite views. What did she mean about the old days being simpler? Why do these people always feel some kind of pseudo nostalgia towards the past?

She kept on ranting about the whole EU being a disaster and hasn’t helped the country.

I kept on elaborating about how the UK has just carried the baggage of the other lazier countries and we needn’t to. We should just mind our business. I noticed although she still paid attention she hadn’t nod her head like she did before so I made sure to ask.

“What do you think? Should the UK leave the EU?”

Crap. I looked at the situation in a flash. The announcer had just said the train was about to alight at Gatwick Airport. I’m never going to see this woman again. What were the consequences if I told her the truth?

“Yes, I think you make a good point.” I smiled and gave my last nod.

Ahh, I knew she would understand. Such a lovely enlightened young lady. It was time to get off the train. She helped me with my suitcase and she grabbed hers.

“Thank you, dear.” She greeted. As she pulled up her handle preparing the luggage to be strolled. “It was really nice to meet you. Have a lovely holiday.”

“You too,” I muttered.

I wanted to leave as fast as I could and get away as far away from her as possible. I walked out the train feeling ashamed of the lie I told, even though it meant nothing in the overall schemes of life. I just didn’t want her to think that I was a victim of slavery. I wanted to show her I was different. I didn’t need her pity. Regret disturbed me but I did my best for it not to get the best out of me. I refocused on my journey and hoped never to face her again.

I got off the train and looked for the signs. Hmm. I wonder which terminal is for easyJet?