Saturday, April 22, 2006

An extended middle finger

I saw her almost a kilometre ahead.
Who wouldn’t?
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.


Dotm said...

Years ago we felt safe picking up hitchhikers, but today I wouldn`t dare. I can`t remember my Dad ever passing one and not stopping. But, then we never locked the house doors either and today it is much wiser to always lock your doors. Boy, how things have changed.
Cute baby!

boo said...

what a dramatic way to 'meet' women jac. glad it all turned out well & u made friends :)

jac said...

Those times are gone, you are absolutely correct but these poor people here don't have car or motorcycles, even a donkey needs food and so they can’t afford it.

I can't ignore them what ever the company rules are.

But I made two friends you know and two baby friends too.

The babies are so cute. Yes I know you do love them. LOL

jac said...

I know that well to make friends rather than foes.

Walker said...

Great Story Jac. Wow
Good job
They do dress in bright colors don;t they, how could you miss them
Enjoy your weekend :)

jac said...

They either wear colourful or colourful with flowery patterns.

Thanks for the compliment.
Enjoy your weekend too

Mindinside said...

That's Lovely!
At the time you were angry
but looking back, makes you smile
recalling the memory

"the Prado screeched to a stop; with it came my poor helmet flying from the back seat to front"

made me go wild with laughter
when i read it over & over

jac said...

Yes, it still makes me laugh at my silliness being angry with just a middle finger as the reason.
I still remember her parting smile with her incredibly looking boy-cut hair style. These incidents happen only once in a while.

You have a very keen observation of events, mind!
Normally people don't observe the fun in a helmet being flying around in a car.

joy said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us, jac. It’s so helpful to hear these stories. It’s so helpful that I’m a bit speechless (writeless) but mostly I am touched by the cyclical nature of the human encounter from a drive to a sighting to a passing and a braking and then communication. Thank you.

jac said...

Our mind work normally in this way, a flicker of thought, a moment of rage, a flash of gentleness, a mere exchange of eyes...all these amounts to just a second for the mind to react. I try to take a deep breath in this second and it comes out as a smile from my eyes knowing too well that my eyes have no charm, as it is.

I know very well that it was a moment of rage that made me stop which ultimately resulted in a smile, very well reciprocated.

Before giving, I remember that a smile is not a smile if it is not from my heart.
Thank you visiting and sharing your thoughts.

joy said...

You're more than welcome. It's all so amazing...and it's encouraging...

jac said...

The pleasure is mine too.

hellbunny said...

Well im not surprised she did that to you Jac.You were being mean pretending to slow down then speeding up again.She was using means that she had learnt to show displeasure to you.It got your attention anyway.

Tanda said...

I love it when you post pictures, Jac. If my digital camera was capable of quality pictures, I would use it like you do yours. It was a great story, also. Where I live, however, if I were stranded on the side of the road and someone stopped to offer me a ride, I would run away, lol. It's not a safe practice here in America.

jac said...

I sure got her attention. LOl and found a friend too in her.

jac said...

You come in a blue moon and spread all the praises at me.

I have a inexpensive digital camera and I use it wisely for which I have immense trust.

I know that in your country it is not safe for a woman to accept a lift, but you will accept it if you have to walk 25 kilometers to buy a bag of wheat and return with that load on your head... walking alone.

Weary Hag said...

I love this type of story. The lesson is that we truly cannot judge a book by its cover. The happy ending was the smile in the photos, and I'm sure ... the lightness in your heart. Wonderful story Jac! Thanks.

jac said...

Yes we can never know until we meet them face to face.

Thanks for the compliment.

starry nights said...

nice post. and I loved your poem. its really deep.

jac said...

starry nights
Thank you for the compliments.