I Got Attacked on the Street for Wearing a Face Mask
‘You’re gonna get corona,’ he mumbled, leaning towards me. ‘You’re gonna get it. Everyone is, and so are you.’
I looked up. I couldn’t see him clearly — the face mask made my breath fog up my glasses. But from what I could see, he looked like a madman. He was tall, all yellows and reds, with a weird, brightly coloured hat and a dark umbrella. I looked back down.
‘You’re getting corona,’ he repeated. ‘Hey. Aren’t you listening? I’m talking to you. HEY.’
I looked up and said: ‘Sir, you’re shouting at me in the street. I think it’d be best if you kept walking.’
He took his umbrella and pointed it at me. At my chest, at my face.
It pissed me off.
When he moved it towards me as if he would stab me with the point, I grabbed it and said: ‘What are you doing?’
He started pummelling me with the other end of the umbrella, bashing into me, shoving me backwards. I screamed and pushed back, but didn’t let go for fear of what he might do once the umbrella was at his full disposal.
‘You’re gonna grab my umbrella?’ he shouted.
I kept screaming. What are you doing, leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone.
Suddenly it stopped. There were people around me. The man walked away. I started to cry.
Maybe the people around me intervened, or maybe they were one second away from intervening, I don’t know. They herded me into the tea shop and sat me on a stool with a glass of water.
I cried and apologised while people around me made phone calls, closed the shop doors, drifted around me anxiously. I called my husband, who was there within ten minutes.
The girl from the tea shop paced up and down, constantly repeating ‘I saw it happen, I saw it happen, I saw it happen.’
What I didn’t know was that someone had followed my attacker and told the police where he was: hiding in a café bathroom a few minutes away. They took him in. In his version of the story, I had shouted racial slurs.
The officer told me that I could press charges if I wanted to, but that they knew him to be psychiatrically troubled. If I was okay with it, they would transfer him into psychiatric care.
I was okay with it.
I slept badly that night. I ran it through my head a hundred times over. Details seemed to shift. Had I grabbed the umbrella because I was scared or because I was angry? Had I acted in self-defense, or did I my aggression escalate the situation into a fight?
Did I drop the headphones when he started shoving me? And if so, did I pick them up when I went into the store? I seemed to remember something of the like, but there were no marks on the headphones.
I should have smiled and nodded when he started muttering to me.
Or, no, I should have looked for other people immediately.
I should have entered the store.
I should have disengaged when I had the chance.
But maybe then he would have gone on to the next girl.
Now he’ll get the help he needs.
I did the right thing.
I did the wrong thing.
I don’t remember what I did.
About the author
Here so you can learn from my mistakes: a singer/writer bringing you desperately personal stories and some occasional pedantic advice.