It was one of those mornings when you wake up with the stomach grumbles, and your mind races to find the cause. That’s it. That spicy red sauce I slathered over the chicken had come back to haunt me. Either that or the bean soup. Or the raw sauerkraut. I told myself to ignore it, and it would go away.
By the time I stood waiting for the tram at the Gare, my situation hadn’t improved. I felt a massive fart brewing, and it was begging to be set free. I walked to the end of the platform, far from the other passengers, and pretended to be fascinated by a pile of construction debris.
Before I could unleash the beast, the tram showed up. Crap. My meeting started in precisely 22 minutes, and I had no time to waste. The fart would have to lie dormant, much to my body’s horror. My digestive gut flora were not happy, and I was sure they were plotting a coup.
The tram doors opened, and I waddled into the packed but silent car along with 100 other people. Not ideal circumstances for passing gas, especially when one is uncertain of the expulsion’s magnitude.
By the time we passed the Glacis, I was in a private world of hurt, standing hunched over and holding on to the pole for dear life. I have only a faint recollection of seeing the Philharmonie through my squinted eyes. I was summoning all my strengths, fears, and dreams to resist the urge and keep that fart inside. I closed my eyes.
Impossible. The laws of physics took over. It was the sort of fart that in ancient times would have been mistaken for Zeus’s trumpet. Did Zeus have a trumpet? It doesn’t matter. It was the sort of gaseous explosion that scientists say happens to giant stars at the end of their lives. It was something that would soon appear in L’essentiel.
My initial embarrassment turned into pride. Had I produced that sound? I was brought back to the music lessons of my youth. My fart was a B-flat. Clear, resonant, bright. I was an orchestra of one, and I’d just given the performance of a lifetime.
When I opened my eyes, I expected a car full of stunned and teary passengers. Applause, bouquets of flowers, exhortations to do it again. But to my disappointment, not a single passenger had even looked at me, let alone smiled. They were just as before, glued to their phones, faces as emotionless as the grey Tuesday morning it was.
In desperate need of appreciation for the magic I had just produced, I turned to the woman who was sitting behind me, nearest my buttocks. Because I was standing, the poor lady must have not only heard and felt my fart, but taken the brunt of its odor.
“Excuse, did you hear something?” I asked her in French, then in English, Luxembourgish, German, and Sindhi.
She looked at me with the honest confusion of a stranger who has never heard of the street you’re looking for.
“No, sorry,” she said.
And that’s how my Tuesday began, with a beautiful note that in an instant turned sour. Next time, I’ll keep my fart for myself.
Areeba Gull works in Luxembourg City