Reading Short Story 2                 

Sacrifice: 2 




English Translation:

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"I won’t be able to take you farther than two kilometers, OK? That’s where I live," I warned him.

"Oh, I’ll 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, can’t you remember old friends?" Perhaps he was one of my many past acquaintances. Satisfied with that, I pedaled on quietly.

Soon he exclaimed, "We’re here, we’re here! I’m 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 didn’t 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 they’re 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.


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