The lady had been waiting for a while. She looked tired and fragile. Yet, she wouldn’t let go off the bag on her shoulder. It looked heavy. It had been on her petite frame for the last ten minutes. She said she hadn’t far to go. I suppose that was where the problem began.
Any rickshaw would have willingly ferried her to her destination had it been a considerable distance away. But home was less than minimum fare away. She refused to back off. Asked every rickshaw fellow diligently. She didn’t give the spiel of how old she was or the heavy bag that she was carrying. Her face crumpled with every refusal but she was determined.
A friend and I managed to get a rickshaw. She almost swooped down upon us. Requested very politely if we could drop her off on the main road. The rickshaw driver was a little annoyed. We almost declined as well but couldn’t ourselves to utter a no. She climbed in and sat on the edge of the seat. She didn’t press for more space or ask us to adjust, etc. She remained on the edge until it was time get off.
True to her word, as soon as we touched the main road, she requested the driver to stop for a minute so she could get down. She got off as soon as the rickshaw halted. Before the driver could re-ignite the engine, she reached forward with folded hands to say, “Thanks sister.”
She was old enough to be our grandmother. But she didn’t let that get in the way of expressing her gratitude. Gratitude to two twenty-somethings for a ride back home! I felt humbled, embarrassed and rotten all at once. We mumbled a muted goodnight and went along our way.
That night I found myself mouthing silent prayers. For that lady, for my grandparents, for us twenty-somethings.