Saturday, April 22, 2006
An extended middle finger
I saw her almost a kilometre ahead.
She was standing defiantly in bright colours, almost at the centre of the road, her right hand up and steady like old fashioned train signal with a thumps up sign for a lift. In her left lap, she had a tiny tot with a small clinical bandage on the leg.
I eased on my accelerator to stop and she knew it instantly, I could see her victory smile from far. I was annoyed by her posture on the road as if threatening to stop my Prado; so instead, my leg touched the accelerator again. The Prado stated surging. Now I could see her smile fade with the surprising knowledge that I am not going to stop. I was almost near and I thought she won’t move from the road. Suddenly her shoulders were down as if sighing and she moved backward displaying a face with anger and the raised her palms, with the middle finger extended out.
The extended finger sign virtually means a four letter**** bad word.
I applied my brakes and the Prado screeched to a stop; with it came my poor helmet flying from the back seat to front.
I did not get out of the car as it was dust all around and she was 30 metres behind the car. The sound and the dust made her to watch what is happening. I could see that though she was not running away, she was scared as she was sure that I have seen her ‘raised fingers’.
I started reversing the car and I could see in the mirror that she was about to run and with the child she realized that she can’t run far. She just didn’t know that I was stopping the car for a different reason.
The middle finger sign is not common in this part of the world and that too a woman using it means, she knows it from some where else.
I got out of the car and I saw her looking around for an escape way. At that intant I saw that there was some body sitting below a tree 100 ft away, an older woman, seemingly sick or tired.
I felt my annoyance giving way to humanity. I looked at the younger woman and smiled. I told in Arabic not to run and lied to her that I stopped the car seeing the woman near the tree. I moved closer slowly so that she remained at ease. The small baby in her lap started to cry.
Both were well dressed and I asked her where they wanted to go. She said that they were going to a church. They were from the village slightly far away and that they walked for almost 6 kilometers.
She said her name was Victoria and the woman was her sister- in- law Maria. They were Christians and they belong to Denge community and they were dislocated due to 20 years of civil war.
I took them in my car and drove out beyond the dry meadows.
Both the children they had were cute and smiling all the time. I offered lemon juice from my bag and they were happy to drink.
On the way I asked Victoria where she learned to show her middle fingers to men and if she knew what it means. She suddenly went silent due to shame and I consoled her with my wits and tried to joke, which made them to relax and laugh. She told me that during the war they were in a refugee camp and it was in the boarder area. There were a lot of annoying men who behave bad with woman and she automatically learned to resist and the ‘middle finger sign’ was part of it.
I left them at the edge of the woods where they said that they have a makeshift church. I went around the car to help them unbuckle the belts and they gladly posed for a picture. Maria was silent most of the time but Victoria was gay and peppy and said that both were married to men who were working the far away fields.
When I said ‘Ma salaam’; Victoria came to me and extended her hand and I took it with both my hands. She said that she was sorry and I told her that it was ok. We both knew what it was for. I smiled at her thinking in wonder that I was mad at her before 30 minutes and now that I am waving good bye to them.
Thats it; my blah blah is over.
Seeya, until my next blah blah.