“Are you a terrorist?” a thin voice quizzed. “My Daddy says to watch out for black bearded men with heavy rucksacks.”
The penetrating wide eyed stare had so far failed to rouse Faizal from his feigned sleep. His legs crooked even more tightly around his rucksack. No longer able to ignore the little girl fidgeting opposite him, Faizal blinked, fumbled in his pocket, drew out a lollipop and offered it. “Here take.”
“My Daddy says not to take sweets from strangers. Are you a Paedo? What’s a Paedo?” said the little girl, now positioned sideways across the arm of her seat, her legs dangling. The woman next to her slept on. But the man with the full red lips gave Faizal a slow knowing wink. The other passengers pretended oblivion.
“What’ve you got in your bag? Is it a hacked up body? My Daddy says children get kidnapped. Are you a kidnapper?”
The whole carriage now silently alert continued their feigned concentration in newspapers, iPods and whatnots. Faizal could feel their furtive looks on him. His heart hammered, his forehead throbbed, sweat gathered at the end of his nose.
“My Daddy says …..”
Thankfully, the announcement of arrival at the station drowned out the rest of the inquisition. Faizal grabbed his rucksack and pounded out of the opening doors.
Three hours later, the rucksack lay empty, strewn across the floor. Faizal stood silently in the darkness behind closed curtains. Breathing deeply he prepared for the next nerve racking moment. The curtains drew open, the little girl and the man with the full red lips peered back at Faizal in a battered top hat – the opening scene of “Oliver”.