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Hundreds of cars stretched out in front – bumper to bumper – for kilometres ahead. All headed the same direction on the narrow, 2-lane stretch of road. From her position inside the hot, motionless commuter bus, she gazed in dismay at the dreary prospect ahead of her. Bathed in sweat in the hot, sticky evening air, she sat as still as was possible for any living human, because she knew that the slightest movement, causing exertion, would double the sweat pouring down her body and she dreaded the thought of it.

Slowly, the bus inched forward in the sticky, furnace like heat. The heat was as thick as marble, one could carve words on it. The rate at which they were moving, the 15 minutes journey under normal conditions could turn to 2 hours in the after work/home bound traffic.

From her motionless posture inside the commuter bus, Lisa mentally ran through the activities she would have to complete by the time she arrived home from the 2-hour traffic situation: her activities included (1)Pick up her 2 toddlers from the daycare close to her abode (they couldn’t afford a live in nanny as the expenses far exceeded their meagre budget. But as the case was now turning out to be, she was more often than not returning later than the daycare closing time, so that come month end, they would have to contend with higher bills than budgeted). (2)Prepare dinner (3)Bath and feed the toddlers (4)Assist with their assignments (5)Coax them into bed early enough (6)Complete a presentation she had brought back home from work and (7)Catch up on some lectures noted she had missed (she was studying for her MSc part-time). All these she would have to squeeze into a four hour period from the time she arrived home by 6pm and 10pm when Michael, her husband was expected home from work.

The mere thought of the tasks she had to accomplish in that short period of time was daunting, considering the fact that she would already be tired from the 2-hour trip home spent in traffic and in a heat filled bus. Anyone – knowing what lay ahead of her each week day on arrival from work – would have expected her to be looking dejected and weary- But surprisingly, the reverse was her countenance. In fact, some passengers sitting close to her in the hot, sticky, smelling bus were at a loss as to the source of joy on the young woman’s face. She looked like a lighted beacon, with joy radiating from her being. They wondered at the source of such joy in the very uncomfortable situation they found themselves.

But it was joy known only to Lisa. One born of love and contentment for the many little blessing sprinkled all over her life. One of such blessings, in fact, the very one that lit up her face at that moment was the thought of Michael her husband. At 10pm, when he arrived home, he would gather her up in his arms, like a little bundle of joy – because in reality, that was what he thought her to be – plant a first warm kiss on her forehead and a second even warmer kiss on her lips. Then he would have his bath and sit down to a hot dinner as he lovingly asked her about her day and listened carefully to every word she said.

After dinner, he would hang around the kitchen, chatting with her and helping out as she did the dishes. Afterwards, they would watch a late night news, movie or musical together in warm silence. Their final acts were to check on the sleeping children then say a night prayer together before turning in. At times, they made warm, passionate love, at other times, they just lay wrapped in each other’s arms as they fell asleep.

So yes indeed, Lisa had reason for the inner joy that radiated from her being as she sat in the hot, sticky, smelling bus, in high traffic on her way home from work. Her reason was joy, born of shared love and contentment. A kind of joy that the innumerable challenges of daily living could never rob her of.

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