December 3, 2014.
5 minutes to 6 p.m.
Its was time for my evening cup of tea.
My bag was packed, my appointment at the dentist’s office was booked and I seemed to be all set for a perfect evening.
There was only one small problem.
An office party at 6:05 p.m. and I knew I wouldn't be present.
Its wasn't my fault, I wanted to be there, I had even prepared a speech, but the party which was supposed to be held at 4 that day got rescheduled more times than a match at Wimbledon on a rainy London morning.
I never miss my evening tea. Not especially when my day isn’t done yet.
I also did not have any intention of staying back because I knew that a few minutes delay on a Monday could mean spending what seemed like eternity in the city’s peak hour traffic.
I sneaked into the cafeteria trying to be as discrete as possible.
The tea was really hot, I was sure that the first sip I took burnt a large number of unsuspecting taste buds on my tongue but it didn't matter, I had 2 minutes to leave and no time to waste brooding about my scalded mouth.
I notice that my shoe laces were loose, but I ignored them, I had less than 100 seconds to leave.
99, 98……. I counted mentally as I took each step towards the exit.
“Thomas”. I heard a voice from behind.
“Where are you going ? Come to the party”.
It was my manager.
I was just 10 feet away from the world outside, a traffic less Bangalore and a dentist appointment I had waited all month to get, all of which now seemed to be rapidly vanishing right before my eyes.
"Well, atleast I get to give my speech" I thought to myself.
For some unknown reason I was restless like never before.
I tapped my feet repeatedly and incidentally looked down to find my shoe laces now fully untied.
I took deep breaths hoping it would abate the inexplicable anxiety.
But nothing seemed to help.
I had been to the dentist before and my fear of the traffic was probably just a reflex, and even though the cake on the table looked enticing, I knew I had to leave, and leave soon.
I slowly slinked out tip toeing my way to the back of the gathering.
As I ran through the corridors and the parking lot I nearly tripped on my shoe lace and fell face first, but even then I didn’t stoop down to tie it.
I couldn’t figure out the reason behind the hurry.
It was almost as though I was rushing to someone or something, but it was not clear to me right then.
I just knew I had to move, move fast towar whatever was waiting for me.
Even a little delay on the streets seemed to get on my nerves, that's what happens when you are in a hurry.
The ride back home is something I normally enjoy on a daily basis, but today every second I spent slowing down or at a traffic stop seemed like forever.
I was stopped by red traffic lights nearly a dozen times that day.
This seemed to be weird because if the universe wanted me to get somewhere as soon as possible I was hoping for a little help from above, but apparently this was not to be as I encountered every possible delay on my way to the dentist’s office.
But I wasn’t one to give up so easily.
With my eye on my watch every other second and some Masterful navigation through the city’s crowded roads, I made up for the delay and I drove into a open parking space 25 minutes after I had left the cafeteria in a hurry.
I stepped off my bike and tried to lock in my helmet.
It just wouldn’t lock in.
This seldom happened before.
I turned the key and tried again, no use.
Clunk, clunk clunk…. C’mon !!! I looked up and then down just to notice my untied shoe laces, again.
Click the lock fell in place.
Relieved by the fact that my bike was parked and helmet finally secured, I bent down to tie my laces.
"This may not be enough,what if it comes out again? I told myself.
Ya, this seemed better.
I got up and started walking.
That’s when I saw her, and i stopped in my tracks, frozen.
It had been 10 years, 10 long years since I had seen my endearing zoology professor from my pre university days.
Even she was stunned.
The years had been kind to her; she looked just as sweet as she was back in college.
We talked for a long time before she wished me the best and went home.
Let’s consider all the things that happened to me that day.
The postponement of the office party, my getting held back at the last minute at the cafeteria, all the delays on the roads, my helmet not getting locked and me deciding to finally tie my shoe lace just seconds before one of my favorite professors crossed the road.
Let us just think about this for a minute.
Had any of those things not happened, or had they taken place in a way different from how it all actually went down, right to the last second, I would have either been a few seconds too early or a few seconds too late and quite obviously I would not have ran into my professor.
And only God knows how many more decades would’ve gone by before I had a chance to thank her for all the guidance and blessings I had received in the 2 years I spent at St. Claret's college in Bangalore, which are in arguably the best days of my life thus far.
So, here is the big question.
Was it all just mere coincidence?
Seems too easy an explanation right?
I will see you again next month with the rest of the story, till then let me leave you with this quote by one of the smartest men who ever walked this earth.
To be continued………