Down My Road Travel

Lessons on the roads


Nothing dramatic really, a tyre burst and the car broke down. It was on a nondescript motorway, in Yorkshire, on a November evening, more than a decade ago.

We, a young family of four, were halfway on our road trip in England. Thanks to the off-season, and a husband who thought pre-planning was for wimps, the trip had acquired a backpacking quality to it. We had no prior reservations and readily took unplanned by-paths. After travelling from London to Edinburgh with many stops in between, we were driving through Yorkshire. That’s when the tyre burst.

My husband got down, and after a brief inspection and an involved explanation about jacks and spares, declared we needed help. The cloudless sky was full of stars, and the contours of the Yorkshire Dales were breathtaking. It was dark, silent and cold. We were at the edge of what appeared to be a village with a smattering of houses. No cars passed by. Minutes ticked away as we tried to figure out what to do — find a phone booth, perhaps a bed and bath that we could walk to? We were not quite prepared to settle in for the night in the car, with two toddlers and no winter clothes to speak of.

My husband was relishing the possibility of an adventure, and I was dreading the possibility of giving up my limbs to frostbite. As we were having a healthy discussion about the situation, as spouses in such situations normally do, I spotted a woman walking by. She had just got out of one of the houses and was walking towards another, the bundle of sheets in her hand indicative of an errand. She paused hearing me hail her.

The nearest garage was a mile away, she announced, after listening to my predicament. With a cheerful smile, abandoning her errand, she went back to her house to ‘ring’ the mechanic. A few minutes later, she came out driving her car instead. The mechanic wasn’t answering, and she was going to fetch him, she reassured us, on her way out. Five minutes later, she was back with help.

The lady and I talked about my itinerary, the climate and our language skills, as he worked. She brought some candy for my children. Our car was fixed; the young man refused to take any money and wished us a happy journey. We were back on the road in no time.

We have been exchanging emails every year around Christmas ever since.

There are many lessons the roads have taught me. As the never-ending news cycle bombards me with actions of bigotry and close-mindedness, sapping my energy, leaving me full of despair, I cling to this incident as though it were a talisman.

(Radhika Nathan enjoys writing fiction. She believes in the miracle of words and the rain.)

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 1:57:04 AM |

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