He could read their minds. Reading minds is something he had perfected.
Wherever he turned in the bus, it was the same cold hard stare- it was everywhere. He looked back and his eyes spoke for him.
“I am not going to let you intimidate me. I do have a job. If you think I am here living off welfare, you are dead wrong!
I am not like others. I do take care of myself. There may be others, but not me”.
Soulamani has always been proud of himself. He has always thought of himself as good person and a good Muslim. He was 6ft and 3 inches tall, weighed about 72kg and fair skin in complexion. Now standing in the bus, at this moment he felt vulnerable.
He told himself not to worry.
He thought about the time he was home in his native country. He had a house bigger than the majority of people in Norway.
His mind went back to the 40 or more goats, not to mention the 25 cows that they kept at the huge barn behind their house.
This was a sign of wealth and power in his native country. He recalls the 10 or so servants they had to serve all their needs. He remembers the 25 rooms in their house.
Big house divided into 5 stories. He remembers his father’s three wives, his stepmothers. Each wife had on average five children. He remembers his half brothers and sisters.
Growing up Soulamani had never ridden in any car other than a Mercedes Benz. He has never taken a taxi or public transportation in Mogadishu as far as he could remember. Things were now radically different.
The war in his country had changed all that.
Now, he found himself on a bus in Oslo. He was now seen as some helpless and hopeless refugee. Been a Muslim he felt people probably thought he treated women as inferior to men.
During the summer months, he prefers wearing his macawis. This, he probably thought, made some thinks he wants Sharia law in Norway too. He carried many negative thoughts with him.
“This is the shit I have put up with.
Day after day, I must put up with this shit for six years and it keeps getting worse.
“How much more of this shit can I take? How much more can a man take?”
As these thoughts were racing through his mind, feeling stressed, he heard a sudden, hard voice, with an Oslo accent asked whether he would like to have a seat.
Soulamani was shocked; it felt like he had been hit on the head.
He told himself he could not be hearing this- “never has a Norwegian offered a seat to me on the bus or trikk,” he said to himself.
Even when he was in a plaster cast some years back after falling on black ice, no one had the sympathy to offer him a seat. He has long given up on people been courteous; “that is the first thing you learn about the average Ola!”
The average Ola does not even offer a seat to an old lady with a walking stick!
“Was this guy joking or was he drunk?” “Could this be my lucky day?”
He looked at the tall, blond stranger with a mixture of skepticism, shock and bewilderment and he quietly said no, in an inaudible voice, not sure of himself.
He had just said no, even though he so desperately wanted to sit. Nonetheless, he felt compelled to refuse the offer of a seat. “Why did he offer me a seat?
Does he want something from me?”