“Are you sure you know where to stop?”

My cousin’s husband was mildly irritated whenever he heard me ask my oft-repeated query. In truth, we were both first timers so we had all the chances in the world to get lost. However, it was good to bear in mind that instead of circuitous roadways to make us confused, a single highway kept our hopes bright.

What’s left inside the surplus Japanese bus, re-customized to local standards, were ten passengers, us two included, a conductor (ticket master) and the driver, who kept nodding to the beats of music blaring from stereo speakers.

“It’s getting dark,” I whispered, looking out the window, having misgivings for travelling so late in the afternoon. “We should have waited till tomorrow.”

“Don’t worry, there’s a big marker on the side of the road. We’ll never miss it.”

That comforting words from my cousin’s husband did not diminish my worries. I was not in control of the situation.

Then, the song on the player changed. I could tell it was the driver’s favorite because he turned the volume at full blast.

Halfway to the music, I shouted, “I saw the sign!”

Para!” someone from the back yelled, robbing me of my chance to say the word.

The driver complied as his foot stepped on the brake pedal, sending us forward because of the abrupt stop. I bumped my forehead at the back of the seat in front of me. I could have sworn loudly were it not for my gratefulness that we finally arrived at our destination.

The screeching tires disturbed the neighborhood’s quiet ambiance. Stray dogs joined the fray with their incessant barking. Still, people did not get out of their houses, two or three I could make out from the dark.

“Where’s everybody?” I inquired, staring at the bus leaving.

“I think they are asleep,” he said.

“At seven in the evening?” I asked, checking my watch again.

“Come on. Let’s walk,” he suggested, lugging off his medium-sized tennis racket bag.

“Should we be waiting for someone to fetch us?”

“At this hour? There’s no more transports on the road.”

A quarter moon was in the sky while the evening’s cold air complimented the light rain.

“How much further?”

“Not too far,” he grinned, perhaps not wishing to discourage me.

“Well, I should know. My bag is heavy.”

“Do you see that corner?” he asked, pointing a hundred yards away to a wooden outpost.

“Yes,” I said, glad that it was not too far.

“From there, it’s about six to seven kilometers to my cousin’s house.”

I dropped my bag on the road. That time, I wanted to shout out loud in frustration. But I was afraid I might have given the dogs the provocation to chase us.

“If you have told me about this earlier, I should brought my horse.”

That funny remark began our hilarious conversation that made the entire walk in darkness more enjoyable.



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