Every day, a furious and silent battle plays itself out on Warsaw’s public transport. It’s a struggle over who gets a seat and I, thanks to my Condition, have joined the fray.
Currently my participation has been limited by the fact that although my central circumference is now larger that that of my chest (no joke in itself), my pregnancy somehow remains mysteriously invisible, or at least ignorable, to the opposition. Let fatso stand, they think to themselves, as I place my bulging midriff in their line of sight. It will do her good. (I know because I’ve thought it myself in my less charitable moments).
My opponents, though superficially comprised of the halt and the lame, should not be underestimated. What they lack in brute force, they make up for in cunning. Old women arm themselves with stunt walking sticks which they use to beat their rivals out of the way as they race (miraculously unimpaired for a moment) towards the disabled seat on the tram. Young mothers with floppy (fake?) babies breathe heavy sighs of exhaustion and the air is around them is suddenly charged with guilt. Complex calculations of age and frailty are conducted in the space of a covert glance, while badly brought up young people studiously admire the Warsaw streetscape and avoid eye contact.
The interesting thing in all this is the sense of entitlement which we are all carrying. I too am infected. There’s not really any excuse- in fact I need to sit down far less than I did a few months ago, when I had to concentrate hard at all times in order not to vomit into somebody’s handbag. A feeling of being exceptional comes with exceptional physical states, and a need for some sort of public recognition.