wont be able to take you farther than two kilometers, OK? Thats where I
live," I warned him.
"Oh, Ill get off way before that,"
he assured me.
Throughout the entire trip, he
kept talking about why he was walking to work today. It seemed there were two bicycles in his family, but one was broken and his
wife was using the other one to get travel documents for a visit to
her home village. Then he exclaimed over the qualities of my bicycle, that it was strong, easy to pedal, and almost effortless for a rider to board. . . . Most
of this time, as I listened, I wondered over and over again: Who was
he? What was his name? It would be embarrassing to bluntly ask his
identity. I was afraid he would reply, "Gee, cant you remember old
friends?" Perhaps he was one of my many
past acquaintances. Satisfied with that, I pedaled on quietly.
Soon he exclaimed,
"Were here, were here! Im getting off, OK?" I did not have to
stop to let him off. I turned to have a good
look at him before we parted. He thanked me and waved to show his camaraderie.
I nodded in acceptance and continued on my way. Because I
doubted my memory, I didnt want to condemn him as a bold stranger. Well, what if he
was a stranger? There had been no harm done. In fact, I felt happy to have
been able to help a total stranger by getting him to his destination
faster than if he had walked. At least the ride might have done
something to alleviate his exhaustion. Helping others was a joy. However, human beings
have their dignity, their pride, and a well-defined plan for social
interaction, which has to be observed when approaching others,
especially in large cities. Some people need assistance, but do not dare ask for fear
of being humbled and looked down upon. Others want to offer help, but
hesitate because theyre afraid people might interpret the
gesture in the wrong way. This is why the person who needs help and the
one who wants to offer it do not meet each other at the same level, even though they
travel the same road.
Many days later, on my way home in the hot sun of
May, I saw an old man standing by the roadside.
His eyes clung anxiously to each passing vehicle.