Sunday, March 18, 2012


Natalia watches her father on the evening news. A still portrait with a caption at first, his learned face and bright white beard spread across the screen, then him suddenly live, responding calmly to an excitable BBC reporter, his lips moving, but the rest of his face a mask of mild amusement. And in the background acres of West London stucco, leaping youngsters in thawbs with jeans and hi-vis running shoes underneath, ululating and punching the air, their energy communicating itself to the newsman who turns to camera with the shiny obvious zeal of the newly converted.

The world is changing and somehow she is part of it. Her mother on the phone in their small kitchen, the coiled lead stretching around two corners like gossip over a fence, and her father's face, impassive to all but its own certainties.

The brick appears in the corner of the screen with its own certainty, no arc, flatly damaging, catching her father beside the left eye. A sudden stillness, blood, calls for Allah then the barriers crashing forwards and the camera reeling drunkenly. Language moving from the diplomatic and statesmanlike to the base notes of anger and revenge and sat upright on the pavement the cleric, her father, no longer middle-aged, clutching his eye and asking for help. Blood streams down from his cheek on to his white robes, his beard all red and his other eye weeping and his daughter crying too, watching it all unfold on the small television.

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