I’m usually woken up by the frantic traffic on Zhaojiabang Road. Or the white, smoggy glow emanating from Shanghai’s early autumn sky.
I can only recall 4 words when I fumbled out from under the covers that morning. Attacks. Paris. Deaths. Call.
My phone was blowing up with notifications. In French, English. Deaths. Terrorists. Bataclan. Kamikaze. Terrace. My brain was crumbling like bad Marseille hash.
No way to call abroad with our peasant Chinese SIM cards. No money on the French Visa to add credits on Skype and call France. Then you start counting your buddies. Your childhood friends. Your family. You feel ashamed doing so, but you can’t help it.
Any of them could be bleeding out on a sidewalk, in a concert hall, wounded or worse by assault rifles, or by some asshole who thought that strapping up with explosives this morning and blowing himself up was a good fucking idea.
Then there’s you. Sitting there, nine thousand kilometers away, all because you decided that life in Europe wasn’t for you. You feel like a vain idiot.
Facebook, Facebook. Fucking piece of shit VPN crappy Wi-Fi damn Internet, pages aren’t loading or half-assed, no one answers. A conversation with a childhood friend. He barricaded himself in his restaurant.
“We heard the shots. Hold on, the army’s at the door.”
The VPN fails another fucking time. No more news. Parents are fine. Facebook is frantically scanned, the one and only source of information. You try and harass as many people as humanly possible.
A conversation with a friend.
My friend was wounded at Le Petit Cambodge, but she’ll make it.
But she’ll make it.
Then someone else.
People are dead across the street. There were shots.
People are dead.
“Shit, fuck, shit, putain” you can’t help but say it out loud. Then you stop saying and repeat it in your head. You start seeing yourself going to funerals. Hospitals. You see yourself sitting in an endless twelve hours flight, going to back to horrors in Paris. You remember the eyes, the looks and the scent of the people you hold dear. People close to you. People less close too. Acquaintances.
Two summers ago, my friends and I went to La Belle Equipe. The only circle of friends I call when I go back to Paris. There are few of them, but they are like family to me. We grew up, grew stupid together. Stupidity is good a way to bond.
The weather was gorgeous, we were just sitting there eating peanuts and drinking beer, as proper Parisians do. At the terrace, just like we did it hundreds of times. Just like millions of people did it hundreds of times.
Those who lost their lives on November the 13th, could have been us. Those who lost their lives on November the 13th, are our dead to mourn.
Fluctuat nec mergitur, guys.
Hey you, alienated terrorist, look at this Parisian cat straight in the eye and rest assured that he also despises you very, very much.