A chance encounter can change your life.
My life is a testimonial to that statement. Over ten years ago, another chance meeting with a stranger on a perfectly ordinary Saturday night had given me an experience to last a life-time, and changed the channel into which my life was to flow. My favorite pastime, when I am in an introspective mood, like today, was to launch in a trip down memory lane.
As I sat sipping my second cup of tea, I reviewed my life beginning with that Saturday night. Today I run an NGO that specializes in proactive disaster management. My office is just across the road from this humble road-side tea shop. A daily solo visit to this shop has become one of my biggest pleasures.
I saw her because of the kids. Ragged, filthy street urchins who came running from all points of the compass. Suddenly, it seemed as if even the flat, bare pavement had begun spouting these noisy, irrepressible kids! Once again I was astounded at the spirit of these little creatures. With so little excuse for happiness, their laughter defied the sound of the most strident bugle. They were running to a point beyond my range of vision.
Curiosity lead me to see where they were running off to- and why. There was a young woman who stood at the topmost step of the house fifty meters away from the tea shop. She stood there, smiling, two large bags and a cardboard carton beside her. Still smiling, she sat down on the top step. This seemed a signal to the kids. They too scrambled to find places to sit on the steps, their eager faces turned up to her. I couldn’t hear what she was saying to the kids, but it seemed like she was asking them questions. From the way those kids were behaving, it was obvious this meeting was a routine for them.
Once she finished the questions, she began telling them something. From the play of expressions on her face and her hand movements, she seemed to be telling them a story. They laughed uproariously and listened engrossed, mesmerized and rapt, hanging on her words.
I brought my tea over to a table from where I could observe her. Her story over, she took out clothes from the two bags and distributed them to the kids. I could hear squeals of delight from the little urchins. Hastily, I threw down some money beside my full, untouched cup of tea and walked briskly over to her. As I reached her, she had begun distributing fruits to the children from the carton. She wouldn’t let them leave until they had finished eating them. With an admonishment to return again next week same time, she hugged them by turn and let them go.
You know how one thing leads to another, don’t you? This time too The Decision came fully formed, compelling me to follow it.
We got married six months later.
Flash Fiction: 498 words
This was a picture challenge. There are two more stories which are part of this challenge… both with their own pictures. They did not ask the writers to tie up the stories or to find a common thread to run through them, I just added that bit of twist for myself. 😀 The other two stories are called Phase One: Dawn and Phase Three: Sunset thus completing the set.