I had never seen a man cry. But that day on the train I saw him. A simple passenger who happened to sit in front of me. At first, I didn’t pay attention to him. He was just seated there, thoughtfully looking out of the window. He was upset, it was clear, but his mood looked very familiar. If you’re a daily commuter, you wouldn’t be surprised to start your daily human contacts with half-asleep people showing signs of bad temper.
But that man had another problem. A few minutes after the train set off, he started receiving phone calls, apparently not the first of his day. “Yes,” he confirmed every time someone called him. “We divorced yesterday. I was no longer able to put up with life with her. I’ve been away from my country for years in order to grant her the life she wants, but she’s never satisfied!”
Until now, the man’s emotions were still under control. But once he talked about his children, his voice trembled and tears started showing up.
At a certain moment I wished I were somewhere else; I wished I could disappear, but I was just there. All I could do was to pretend I didn’t see anything. I didn’t know what I could do. But anything except expressing compassion, or even asking how he felt. I had the impression the man was begging his eyes to stay dry. He was in that state (which I know very well) where a simple “are u OK?” would transform all what you have to say into warm abundant tears.
I was sorry for him. But forcing my gaze to stay fixed out of the window, I couldn’t help wondering how this story would sound if I heard it from the woman. “Déformation professionnelle,” I mockingly thought to myself. Aren’t journalists supposed to question any information they get? But a few months of journalism couldn’t have established in me that automatic kind of reasoning. It was probably just that feminist, or, more simply, female side of me.
The train arrived in Casablanca and I and hundreds of people prepared ourselves to start an ordinary, for some of us routine working day. But this man’s story made me think how we tend to take the beginning of “normal” days for granted. Sometimes we just feel bored and complain because our day was “normal”, and moan at the thought of starting a "normal" day tomorrow. I and many other passengers rushed out of the train to start the same day. The same sun was shining on all of us. But if that time our day resembled past ones, for some people it didn’t. Somewhere the day started with life-shaking changes. A broken family, shattered life plans, and destabilised children.