Muscle Memory In Motion - Lockdown 1

30th March 2020. Day 8 of lockdown, day 10 of shielding from pandemic.I’m sitting by my front door, in my wheelchair, getting some air, I’m wearing my mask.A skinhead walks past glaring at me, and shouts ‘Baaaah Baaah! Take that fuckin’ mask off! Stupid! ‘Fuckin’ sheep!’ He turns back and spits at me. It falls just short of the wheelchair. He starts up my path and tries again. I pull the chair back as fast as I can and slam the door! Once I was sure he’d gone I disinfected the front door. But I realise I’d had a run in with him before.

We flashback to September 2019, Coventry. I’m pushing myself home from work, it’s around 10.00pm, dark and raining. Two men, skinheads, are walking on the other side of the road, same direction as me, but a few feet behind. One of them shouts at me. ‘Fuckin’ Islamist cripple! Takin’ our fuckin’ benefits!’ I think to myself, ‘it must be the hat and beard, idiots.’The other skinhead shouts, ‘What happened? Didn’t your suicide vest do the job properly? Fucka!!’ The penny drops as they get closer. The first skinhead says ‘Shit he’s white.’ ‘Sorry mate! Thought you were a… I interrupt saying ‘And what if I was,’ The older one berates the younger one.‘What y’ sayin’ sorry for! He’s still a fuckin’ scrounging cripple in-he!’ They start chanting… ‘Scrounga, Scrounga. And run off laughing. Such idiots, they seem to think everyone with a beard and hat is Asian and every Muslim is an Islamist. Can’t imagine how they’d react if they discovered I’m actually a Buddhist.

We flash forward to the following night. Again I’m pushing myself home on the same stretch of road. I hear footsteps behind me on the other side of the road. And a woman’s voice, asking me if I’d like some help. A young East Asian  woman is crossing the road wearing a Shayla style Hijab. She places her hand on her heart as a greeting. I reply, ‘Oh thank you. If you don’t mind, I have a shoulder injury and I’m struggling a bit.’ She assures me it’s no problem and asks how far I’m going. ‘Just to the crossroads, l’m just around the corner. She steps behind me and starts pushing the wheelchair and tells me it’s on her route.‘Thank you.’ I say, ‘Are you studying here?’ She tells me she is taking business studies and is in her 2nd year. ‘How are you enjoying Coventry?’ I ask. She says it’s very different from Ontario, where she grew up after her parents emigrated from Taiwan. But that she likes Coventry a lot. I thank her as we reach the crossroads, and we part company. I find myself thinking I hope she doesn’t encounter those idiots from last night, and-  that I’d rather live in her world than theirs.

Visual Mix