Suji waited desolately at the bus stop outside the school. She didn't have a watch to tell her how long she had waited, but the school bag was beginning to weigh heavier on her back and the sun inched lower in the sky. Why didn't the bus come? Or for that matter, why didn't she see any other buses? Could it be one of the sudden strikes that the French workers were famous for?
"I don't want to stand here. Let me try to walk home, I'm sure I could reach home before it starts to get too dark." Suji turned determinedly down the road and started trotting briskly, following the footpath, past the route that she usually watched from the bus window. Luckily, it was all mostly downhill.
She reached a small maze of roads and made a wrong turn. Looking at the high facades a bit uncertainly, she darted into the tiny storefront with the 'Coiffeur' sign and asked the man there, "Does this road go down to the bridge?" "Yes," he replied, reassuringly enough. She pressed on, the heavy bag no longer weighing her down, now that she was back on the right path homeward.
The underpass to the Pont de St.Cloud came by soon enough. Suji watched cautiously for a break in the traffic and scooted through the dark little tunnel as fast as her legs could carry her. She emerged triumphantly on the other side, making it just in time to the sidewalk before a few cars started coming through, and turned around to see a Pedestrians Prohibited sign behind her. Oops.
And Suji continued happily home, holding tight to Amma's hands.
P.S. The distance was about 3.5 km and took about an hour to walk.