The winter breeze always has a certain comforting melody. It helps me embrace solitude. It helps me get accustomed to the silence.
Her destination was the local school. ‘Oxfam elementary school’.
“It’s really cold today, isn’t it?” I said hoping to spark a conversation.
“Oh it surely is.” She replied with a gentle smile.
There was silence for a few seconds. Something felt odd. There was uneasiness in the air.
Suddenly, she peeped through the back seat and said “We might have to take a detour.”
There was a certain sense of urgency in her voice. Her voice turned creaky. She had a stressed look on her face.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You can cancel this ride and book another one if you want to.” I said firmly.
The transition of this serene beauty into the person I was seeing right then was drastic.
“You have to!” she said with a raised voice.
“You have no other choice!” she said as she banged her fist on the seat.
“I’m sorry ma’am” I said hoping she would understand.
I was puzzled. i felt anxious and bewildered at the same time.
“I have to get there. I have to be there. I can’t afford to not be there. I…I.. need to be there.” she murmured in a hasty voice with her hands clasping her hair tightly. It looked like she might pull them out that instant.
“Please” she said with a grim low voice. It felt like she might break down if I didn’t.
She looked into my eyes. Begging. I saw conflict in her eyes. Something took over her. I didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was a deep desire, a fleeting purpose. Maybe it was something sinister.
“This could get me in trouble, but okay. Give me directions.” I said as I hoped she would calm down.
“Oh thank you. Thank you so much.” She clasped my arm with a jerk.
She had a tear trickling down her cheek.
I was confused. I was flabbergasted. The change was dramatic.
She sank into the backseat with a deep relaxed sigh.
“Could you please put some music on.” she said in a low yet a sweet voice.
I was scared, I was curious. I wanted to help as much as I wanted to stay away.
I put on my playlist.
As I looked at her through the rear view mirror, she felt oddly relaxed after I put some music on. It looked like she was regaining her composure.
“Could you take me to the local foster home?” she requested.
“I’m really sorry for the way i behaved a few moments ago.” She said.
“It’s okay” I said with a comforting tone.
“Are you a teacher?” i inquired. I wanted her to relax and forget the whole thing we just went through.
“I used to be one. Now I’m a janitor.” She said with a sigh. She still had a smile on. She seemed thankful for something much more dear to her.
I was bewildered. I wanted to know more. Curiosity for the passengers is not a good trait for uber drivers though.
“I really like this song” she said as she hummed along to the soft tunes of ‘Lights down low’
She was an absolute enigma.
I pulled up near the foster home. A really ill-maintained bungalow with a playground in the yard.
Children with torn sweaters and gloves slid down the slides with really innocent giggles and smiles. Girls ran around with one legged dolls. My inner child envied the fact that these kids get to play all day.
Its funny how trauma doesn’t affect such tiny and young souls. Everything always gets better for them.
Oh how cruel the world is.
“Thank you!” she said in a hurried tone. As she rushed out the door.
Two kids appeared running in the distance. They were running towards us. The girl had a really wide smile on her. She didn’t care about her missing tooth. She smiled with absolute joy.
“Mommy!” shouted both the kids in unison.
The lady ran towards them throwing her purse away. She took them in her arms. Covered their faces with her warmth.
I came out the car, stood beside the bonnet watching them.
It was beautiful. She was beautiful. So were they. So is this cruel world. So was that day.