The Walk

It’s been almost 20 minutes since she has started walking from her house, still she hasn’t been able to get an autorickshaw. This happens very rarely as she lives on the main road where autos run to-and-fro all the time. Perhaps it’s because today is Sunday. Even auto drivers take an off day.
She trudges on the uneven path. The road does not have a pavement for pedestrians. Instead there is an open drainage on its either sides. One wrong step and down she would fall into the drain.
A heap of the dirty slush dug up from the drain lies in a corner. It has been lying there for the past few days. When the rain comes, it will go back into the drain where it came from.
The elbow crutches that she is holding in both of her hands make her walk all the more difficult. She has been using those since her foot got operated – four months back.
When the physiotherapist had shown her the crutches for the first time, she was bewildered how she would use it and how people would react when they see her using crutches. But very soon she found out that the crutches were her best friends during this dark phase of her life. They helped her go to the office, do shopping, be independent.
But now her hands were failing her. Both of her hands have developed blisters due to the constant use of the crutches. She feels the burning sensation on her hands as she walks on to the auto stand at the junction. Once, unable to bear the pain, she stops midway. Taking out her right hand of the crutch, she inspects it. A red spot. Searing with pain on the left side of the palm. She had been noticing it for the past few days. It feels like a corn. “Do corns develop in the hands,” she wonders.
She has seen corns on some people’s soles. It is very painful and infectious. Will the corn in her hand too burst?
She rubs her right hand and puts it back into the crutch. Almost 30 more steps to go. She can’t stand for long. What if she falls down? Will someone come and pick her up? Or some speeding bike run over her?
No, someone will surely come and pick her up. And ask her where she lives and why she got out alone in “this condition”. She can already see the surprise on their faces when she tells them that she lives alone. Then that surprise would soon turn into sympathy. “Poor girl!” And she hates that. She needs nobody’s sympathy.
“I won’t fall,” she tells herself. Another five minutes and she will reach the auto stand.
Suddenly, her hopes are renewed on hearing the grunting sound of an auto coming from far behind. She turns back but can’t see whether it is vacant or not. One, two, three… time ticks by as the auto comes closer.
Someone is sitting in it! The auto whizzes past her. With a dejected heart, she turns around. “Doesn’t matter I have almost reached the auto stand,” she consoles herself.
She can see an auto parked at the auto stand. She prays that no one else boards it. But as she approaches it, the driver starts the auto. She looked on open-eyed. That auto is her last hope. She does not have the stamina to go on. What if she misses it? She won’t be able to stand for long. Will she fall down?
But her fears are unfounded. When Riya crosses the road and reaches the stand, the auto is still there – waiting for her. “Kaloor,” she directs the driver as she shoves in her crutches and happily hops on.

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