Fluctuating Traditions

Padoum advanced slowly through the maze of alleys behind London's biggest shopping street. It would have been far easier for him to walk along Oxford Street but the Christmas shopping tradition was in full swing and the crowds were out in force. Padoum was still in shock followiug his experience on the underground. The train was already packed when it came in. Padoum decided to let it pass and wait for the next one. Bama John wouldn't mind if he was a little late for their get together. After all, that was part of the African tradition. But the moment the doors were opened he was carried along helplessly on a forward going wave against which there was no resistance. Packed inside the train he tried his best to keep his elbow out of his neighbour's ribs. The effort was vain but the smile on he young man's face every time he excused himself seemed to express that he didn't really mind. Padoum tried to do the same with the owners of any one of three ribs that dug themselves into his body at various stages of the journey. As the train pulled into Oxford Street he wondered if he was ever going to make it to the exit. But once again he was carried along on a wave of popular enthusiasm and soon found himself sitting on an empty platform drinking in the few minutes quiet he was able to get.

He made his way towards the exit and out into the street. The pandemonium was terrible. Bama John's house was between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Bama John had advised him to get out there. But John had to see the lights. It was the one tradition that united this sprawling city with his village at home; every evening one small lantern after another would be lit sending a ray of light and hope out into the surrounding desert. He slowly climbed the stairs to the beckoning street above him just before another wave of enthusiastic shoppers were ruminated out from the rumbling depths below. Lost to the hustle and bustle around him he stood there in a trance gazing at the bright, coloured lights. Some were winking at him, sharing with him the secret thoughts going through his mind. Londoners were so fortunate to have this beautiful tradition. Yet, no one seemed to pay the least attention to it. He remembered the story he's written just days before. It was his first one for the newspaper. Due to the credit crunch London's new Mayor wanted to keep the lights out this year. There'd been a wave of popular sentiment when the news broke, forcing him to make an about turn. Yet, these Londoners didn't even notice the lights. It seemed they would only be appreciated once they were gone.

From acrooss the busy street the strains of a familiar carol reached Padoum's ears. Another Christmas tradition more neglected than valued. It woke Padoum out of his reverie. Getting his London A-Z out of his bag he aimed for the first street that would take him down towards Bama John's house. Even his fascination for the lights could not bring him to run the gauntlet of the traditional Oxford Street crowds on the last Saturday before Christmas. Padoum's mind was focused now. In a few minutes he would be indulging in some wonderful Christmas traditions of his own: not tinsled baubles, mulled wine and beckoning Santas but human warmth, music and the joy of reunion.


A really nice story.Well done.

6 December 2008 at 09:57  

I love the way you worked through the bedlam of London pre-Christmas bedlam to reach your own traditions.

6 December 2008 at 21:08  

story and I can so relate to it having lived in Holland and people so caught up in buziness that they don't notice all the great traditions

7 December 2008 at 04:07  

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