Serendipity – those unexpected accidents that take you by surprise. Those things never meant to be; those events not written in your destiny.Yet they crop up into your life and change it forever.
Ashima found the concept intriguing. Her rational and pragmatic mind however, prevented her from believing in it. Last night was strange, almost bordering freaky, she thought, as she got out of bed that morning. He drove up right as she got out of the car. He had just bought a new spare tyre that morning. Her tiny umbrella broke the previous day, forcing her to buy a new one, big enough for two – it was the only piece left in the shop. The stall she decided to treat him to chaat at was shut. “I really don’t know how to thank you. I would have been stranded on the road in the downpour if you hadn’t driven by. Please let me buy you chaat tomorrow? I insist,” said Ashima. He agreed. “We’ll meet here by 6.” He couldn’t stop looking at her eyes. They were the most genuine pair he had ever seen. Soft, brown, almost hazelnut, sparkling in the flickering tubelight that hung above.
She smiled now, thinking about the goosebumps on her body when he looked at her. “The name is Nikhil,” he said, before driving away.
She waited near the stall at 5:55. He drove up by 6. He looked at her and smiled. She had nothing to say, but couldn’t stop the gigantic smile that resonated from her face. They walked in silence to the stall. “Pani Puri?” she asked. “How did you know?” he asked in reply, genuinely surprised. As the puris vanished, one after the other, the conversation began to flow, from one level to another. Ashima never thought she would meet someone, so suddenly, who was so much like her. They shared their three biggest loves; beer, food and theatre, in that order. While he shared his views on everything under the sun, from politics to finance and all the way back, she watched his face shine, the curls framing it perfectly and his eyes sparkling with life.
There was something about him, thought Ashima, something she couldn’t lay her finger on. Oblivious to their surroundings, they chatted for a long time, only to be asked if they wanted anything more by the chaat wallah. Nikhil realised it was time to leave. The ring on his fourth finger required him to be present at the family dinner. How he would explain a full stomach to his mother, he hadn’t yet figured out. He took out his wallet to clear the bill. Ashima refused to let him. “I asked you to chaat, it was my way of saying thank you for helping me.” “Well then this is my way of saying thank you, for such a brilliant evening. I will not forget this in a long time.”, he said while refusing to let her pay.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Does it really, Nikhil wondered. It had been 5 years now yet he couldn’t forget the way Ashima quoted Frost. He hadn’t heard anyone say it with such faith, like she unquestioningly believed each word she spoke. “Sir, there’s a client waiting for you, a Miss Ashima Kapoor,” his secretary announced. He looked at the picture of his wife lying on his desk and crossed his fingers.
Ashima sighed as her husband entered the house. “Its been a harrowing day, I feel like beer,” she said. “C’mon love, beer is too unsophisticated. Bring out that single malt.” As she poured the whiskey in the glasses he began ranting about his day. “… oh and an old college friend of mine is coming home for dinner tonight. Nikhil Shrivastava.” She dropped 2 cubes of ice into the glass and crossed her fingers.
It took 5 years, countless visits to the chaat wallah, hours of reading Frost and an unhappy marriage for Ashima to finally believe. To believe that sometimes, one unplanned accident can change your life.