Saturday, October 09, 2010

A strange event occurred on the F train as we were soaring above Carroll Gardens on the elevated track. An Indian boy sat across from me, between his mother and his sister, it seemed. I had my eyes on my phone screen when I perceived a mild commotion, voices raised imploringly. I looked over to find the boy lurching toward the passenger seated to my left, a serene old lady with a book. In defiance of the women's protests he reached down to touch her knee. The mother quickly stood up behind him and pulled him away.

"Sorry!" she said. "Sorry!"

"Sorry!" echoed the sister.

The old lady murmured, "It's all right."

At once I was agitated, wary, the reflexive response of the guarded city dweller. I peered at the stocky boy as he settled uneasily into his seat. He had a sheepish smile but he still appeared to be flailing slowly against the restraining hands of his kin. There was something very wrong with this boy; this must be what it's like every time he's out in public. That's what was really going on.