“Bye.” That was the last word that he heard from her and maybe will ever hear. Unless fate acts otherwise. What is fate anyway? Is it of the form of a brightly colored being wishing good for all? Or a sinister being bringing about bad? Or is it just nature at its work? One thing for sure is that fate is not real in the tangible sense. It is surreal maybe.
Bye is a commonly used word. And it carries with it a weight of emotions. Bidding farewell to a loved one carries with it love and sadness in its stead. Love for the person and sadness for the parting. And the manner of saying it could arouse feelings of goodness or sadness. What of that from an ex? Do they even say it? That is left to you to say. Bye from a stranger though, elicits trains of thought that might never have a conclusive end.
‘Bye’ that was all she said. But the word remained in his mind for a period longer than expected of a three letter word. It was not just about the word, but also about the manner in which she said it. It spoke of a certain kind of goodness on her part and created a certain kind of liking for her on his part. But she was gone now. And maybe they will never meet again. For some time, he looked back and saw her following from a distance. But the distance kept growing as the time progressed. She walked carefully amidst the masses of people hurrying about lest they be caught up with the curfew in 40 minutes time. The road was packed with cars as the owners tried to make it home in time. It was abnormal times. Even the men were forced to be home by 7pm, a rule that was commonly imposed on the girls back at home. For their good and safety.
The red patch on her blue hooded jumper could be seen from a distance. The white shoes were clearly visible against the black trouser that she had on-carrying the weight of her whole body. It was a straight walk, and somehow long. And at some point he hoped that she would catch up and he would have a chance to wave and smile questioningly on the decision that she just took and whatever was on her mind. It was just but a wish, whose probability of fulfillment was close to zero. And for sure, it didn’t happen. He even thought of alighting and confronting her upfront. But the Brain Cell B thought against it. She was last seen close by the road and just like the manner in which she appeared out of the woods by the road side, she vanished in the multitude of the people and the cars by the road.
It was now up to fate. Whether they will chance upon each other again. For then, they will no longer be strangers. And that day, he bought sweet potatoes for the first time. 22 minutes to 7pm.