Metro Mensch in London
Story by Tann vom Hove; Illustration by Manuel Ferrari

Front Page

Metro Mensch in Baghdad
Metro Mensch in Berlin
Metro Mensch in Folkestone
Metro Mensch in India
Metro Mensch in London
Metro Mensch in Madrid
Metro Mensch in Mexico
Metro Mensch in São Paulo
Metro Mensch in Strasbourg
Metro Mensch in Washington DC
Metro Mensch in Zurich

World Mayor 2023
A refugee on the Northern Line
I am a refugee from Belarus. I live in North London. People don’t like me. I have no friends. I have nothing to do. I have no money but I must not work. When I beg I’m in trouble with the police. I live in a hostel with refugees from Africa. I don’t understand them. African women smell different from my mother and sisters. I like women.

On Tuesdays and Fridays I must go to the immigration office in South London. I like going to South London. I go by Underground train. The Underground is full of nice English people. Many are women.

My station is Edgware on the Northern Line. I travel to Kennington on the Northern Line. The immigration office opens at ten. My journey takes me an hour. The trains are very full in the morning. I always offer my seat to a woman.

Often I have to wait a long time in the immigration office. Sometimes for three hours. There is only water to drink but no tea and nothing to eat. My officer is a lady from India. She can’t pronounce my name. Every time she asks me the same questions but then she gives me a little money, so I smile at her and say thank you. I also say goodbye but she never replies.

Kennington station looks like a church in my hometown in Belarus. Men from Poland are painting the inside. I would like to help. But I am not allowed. Poland is now in Europe. Belarus is nowhere. It is after one o’clock. I stand on the platform and wait for a train. The first train is empty. So I wait for the next one. I want a train full of women.

The second train is also empty. I don’t get on. I have time. I am a refugee with nothing to do. Sometimes I wait an hour or more. There are more empty trains. I sit on a bench opposite a poster for Greek holidays. Young women look across the sea. One day I will visit Greece with an English woman.

A train arrives with four women in the third car. I get on. Three women are English. One is from Jamaica. The black woman sweats a lot. Maybe she has a cold. She sneezes into paper tissues and then wipes her face. She has a nice face but she is from Jamaica. I want to love an English woman.

Two women are very fat. One is asleep. I can see that she has no teeth. She also smells and has a very red nose. I believe she drinks too much. My mother only drinks tea and my sisters like American Coca Cola, which is very expensive in Belarus. I don’t like the fat women with no teeth. I want to love an English woman with nice teeth.

The other fat woman is probably from a circus. My dad often took me to a circus. There were many fat women in colourful costumes. My father pointed them out to me and laughed. He loved my mother but also liked other women. When I was thirteen I found a magazine with English women in his tool cupboard. I think he wanted to love an English woman too. He is dead now.

The young woman who reads a book is very slim and has big eyes. She only wears a t-shirt and her skirt is short. I like her very much. I offer her my seat and she smiles but she doesn’t sit down because she only travels one stop. The train slows down before it stops at Waterloo. The young woman closes her book and looks at me. Thank you. My eyes follow her stepping onto the platform. Then she is gone. Sometimes I want to follow a woman I like, so I can learn about her. But I never do it. I would not want men to follow my sisters.

I am happy now. Between Kennington and Waterloo stations I was in love with the woman reading the book. I will write to my mother and tell her that I met an English woman. Soon all her neighbours will know. But my sisters will not believe me.