Along The Way
" Hmmm. Looks like I need to catch the 1.08 train which will give me plenty of time to get there for half one "
Radiya muttered quietly under her breath as she eyed the online train timetable on her desktop, clicked to open a new page, performed a search for directions to her job interview destination and spun out of her recliner with added vigour. She chose not to note down the directions. The cycling accident. Three years earlier. Qualms about her capacity to retain information and the embarrassing reality of a technologically extinct phone in her possession drove her to be creative with her ability to remember. Speaking out her intentions; she found. Had always helped.
" Great. Sorted. Doesn't seem too far from here so I should be fine "
Scooped her documents together neatly. Placed them in her tablet case set down inside a small sports rucksack with her other personal effects. Pulled on a smart pair of slacks, fitted sports blouse, shell cycling jacket, fingerless cycling gloves. Cycling helmet and headed down to the hallway from her home office where she picked up her house keys, slipped into some comfortable all-weather terrain shoes and exited her front door.
The journey into the neighbouring town was a heartbeat away and though a little apprehensive "Not exactly sure where this place is " She thought out loud 'I can always ask directions though' She resolved inwardly. Her apprehension was quickly soothed by the low heat and reticent sun breaking through an autumnal sky painting her crossing into the neighbouring town grey, then golden as the train pulled into the station.
Her affirmative dialogue continued, bolstering a fresh surge of assuredness about the new possibilities that lay ahead having secured an interview. Only the second in a month, favouring quality over quantity as she travelled up to the main concourse with her bike and headed away from the station. From recollection, she repeated, as if to refresh the mental map.
" Right out of the train station. Go past the fire station, left onto the underpass, then left again onto Chivalas Road, follow the cycle path for three hundred yards, then -- Damn." Radiya realized she had hit a mental block, always compromised directionally she wished she had taken her father's gift for total recall.
" Gonna have to ask" She customized her trail of thought as she pushed into another ' I thought I had it down pat ' introspection, navigating the slightly hilly incline of the cycle path. " Time to test my Eddy Merckx cycle climb technique for fun " she smiled faintly to herself passing, one, two, three people on the gravelly cycle path, sutured into focussed strides as if the sudden burst of wind from nowhere had added new impetus to their rush to complete duties for the day.
Another two windswept bodies slipped by as prospects for further information started to thin and the rugged cycle path took on a palpable quietude that seemed to change the energy, the rumble of traffic decorative as a distant backdrop.
" Time to dismount I think "
She coached herself as she noticed the shuffling, heavy gait of the mature lady in front and to the left of her, the heels of her black ankle boots scuffing the foot path rhythmically. The pendulum swing of four weighted branded shopping bags; two in each hand, balancing her slightly bent posture. Radiya could not make out whether the medium frame propelled by concentrated effort to perform the rhythmical shuffle was deliberate or a result of some physical impairment but in that moment was immediately humbled by the determined display of perseverance.
" Excuse me " Radiya observed the concentrated effort, steady, focussed. " Excuse me "
The second ' Excuse me' jolted the bent posture upright. Motion halted. Head swung to the right to take in Radiya and her surroundings as if stepping out of her concentrated effort had created a new world. The exploratory stare drinking Radiya in.
" Sorry to bother you. I'm wondering if you can tell me where Lantern Way is?
" Lantern Way? " She repeated quizzically as if being asked what the fourth root of 9 is, paused, her mid- copper coloured complexion displaying doubt " Lantern Way? "
" Yes, do you know where it is? " Radiya watched the mature lady rock back on her heels slightly before straightening up, looking to her left up the gravelly cycle path, and then smiled through a light- bulb- lit moment as she drank in Radiya's presence once more.
" Yes. Yes. I know "
" Great, can you tell me how I get there? "
" I walk, you come. I show you "
Radiya knew that she could not afford the luxury of now finding a more direct navigator as the focussed figure made a sharp right onto the cycle path to guide her. Felt somehow compelled to indulge her kindness and navigation skills as she glanced once more at the slightly bent figure with the grocery bag appendages. felt suddenly protective of her.
" Can I help you with your shopping bags. You can hang them on my handlebars. I'll carry them for you? "
The slightly bent frame came to a halt once more; straightened her back and without hesitation moved over to Radiya, placing two of the weighty bags on Radiya's left handlebar. Radiya lifting the third bag onto the right handlebar. Leaving her appropriately; she felt, with a more manageable load. Philanthropic deed for the day accomplished Radiya noticed the heavy gait; modified: a faint smile. Energized. And still a determined display of perseverance along the cycle path.
Radiya wondered for a moment what this kindly lady's story was, why such an arduous trek with such heavy bags was her reality, wondered if there was no-one to aid her with the cumbersome task. " Have you walked from far? "
" I go town. I walk from town " The determined expression softened momentarily as a sheepish " I used to catch bus " floated from her lips; caused her to smile. " Buses, bloody rubbish. I wait too long. So I walk "
Radiya watched the impish grin form and both fell into the path of the determined figure's laughter.
Radiya could not help the feeling of de ja vu. Something about this winding interlude with the resolute figure beside her felt familiar. Almost personal as they interacted. Comfortable. Sometimes verbal. Sometimes silent. Now at the top of another slightly steeper incline the focussed figure came to a measured pause and straightened up once more
" This. Midas Walk " She raised her free hand and in a sweeping motion from side to side as if directing traffic to move forward; tagged the road in front of her with a finger, pointing, directly into the middle of the road in front of them.
" Ah. Yes. Now I remember " Radiya gushed ; relieved that it had come back to her. 'At the junction take a left onto Midas walk ' The internal dialogue continued. " So Lantern Way isn't too far from here? " She scanned the road in front from right to left "
" Yes. Yes. You go left. Walk little bit. Walk little bit. Bottom of Midas Walk. You. Turn left. Lantern Way on right. I show you "
No gentle protestation to support a ' I think I can find it from here ' is going to work here ' Radiya noted the internal dialogue ramped up to 'amusement ' as she watched the determined figure stretch through a ' nought to sixty ' stride pattern in seconds to come level with the head of Midas Walk.
" You see this long road? " The copper coloured features engaged Radiya once more as she looked to the left and down Midas Walk as far as the eye could see.
" Yes "
" I walk little way with you. You go down to bottom of this road. Turn left. Midas Walk on right "
" Okay. Great "
" I walk little bit with you "
Radiya watched the accommodating smile return and followed the assured steps across the road onto the pavement and a little further down to a clearing where a side road and a block of higgledy-piggledy flats sprawled out against an untidy backdrop of refuse bins and brick and iron garages.
" From here " The now upright figure came to another measured stop. Pointed to the bottom of Midas Walk. " You go bottom of this Road. Turn left. Then right. Cross Road. Lantern Way. You want me show you? "
Radiya focussed her attention on the quizzing expression. Smiled appreciation, did not feel she could take this kindly lady any further out of her way despite her continued act of open benevolence. Somehow it appeared that she had reached her destination as she moved a little closer to Radiya's bike and peeled the three bags from Radiya's heavy laden handlebars.
" I think I can find it from here "
" You sure. I show you.? " She set her bags down, straightened up once more. Smiled through inquiring eyes
" I think I'll be okay. " Radiya returned the smile. Sensing something empyreal. Almost intangible as the inquiring eyes continued to question her certainty . The final leg. Would she be okay.
" you very sure? "
Radiya let out a tiny chuckle
" Yes, very sure. Thank you so much for your help. I'm sure I'll be able to find it from here. "
Radiya steadied her bike. Balance perfect on the left hand peddle. Swung her right leg over the crossbar, a final glance at the mature figure. Connecting with her broad smile and pushed away slowly. A final 'thank you' escaping her lips. A few seconds into her lone journeying she thought to look back though focus upon the task at hand momentarily took her away from her intended actions. When Radiya managed to stop briefly to check her directions, a quick look behind her threw up an empty space. The quirky figure as if by magic had disappeared. Radiya sensed a retrospective flash envelope her. She could not have known that the simple act of asking for directions would facilitate remembrance of her grandmother's warming fireside hugs when the cycling accident had left her doubting her ability to bounce back. Could not have known that the mutual acts of kindness shared along the way would bring her good energies to secure a job offer and later a detour. Her mother's graveside and the epithet on her mother's headstone.
' To those that give themselves selflessly to the service of humanity. Upon them will the light of love shine continually ' Radiya's thoughts wondered back to the quirky, determined, amiable figure she had encountered earlier that day as she sat humming softly at her mother's graveside. Now she understood perfectly the epithet on her mother's headstone.
(c) Sy4ndene Jahia