"Do you believe in destiny?"
"Destiny? Well, I don't know! Do you mean everything happens as per someone's plan?"
"Yeah, you could say that. Have you ever felt like even if you try hard for a different path, somehow you can't, as if someone decided which road you are supposed to take already?"
"Well, yeah. I suppose."
It was a moonlit evening on the Mandarmoni sea beach in Bengal, as Ramesh and Sarika enjoyed the mild breeze. They had been married for a year and loved weekend outings, specially beaches. The evening was especially beautiful with the sky turning deep red during sunset. Now that it was evening, not many people were around and the duo enjoyed the privacy in each other's arms. The sea waves continued to splash breaking the silence of the quiet evening, as the young couple let their feet be drenched in the salty water.
Ramesh continued, "In my life, there have been several instances when I felt the power of destiny".
Sarika said, "Tell me all about it..."
"I was a child back then, studying in school, probably 6th grade. Usually I used to be punctual as far as school timing was concerned. I used to get up early and grab the window seat next to the conductor without fail."
"That window seat meant much to me. I find it funny today, why it mattered to me so much during those days. There were even instances of me fighting with other guys for that seat, specially there was this guy, Rakesh. He always wanted that seat for some reason!"
"I remember the day, it was 23rd May, the same date as today. Probably that's why I recall it."
"You know I missed the bus that day by a whisker. I saw it at a distance and I ran after it, frantically shouting at the conductor to stop! The conductor didn't hear me at all, but you know, Rakesh did! He poked his head out of the window and grinned at me as if saying, 'I win!' "
"I was angry with myself for letting Rakesh win! I came back home, took my cycle out and prepared to paddle towards school. It was a good 6 km distance, but I had no other options! Public transport used to be scarce in my small town."
"And I kept cycling, perspiring from the summer heat, Rakesh's grin increased by resolve to reach school faster!"
"I had covered some distance when I saw a big crowd on the road and oh, I saw our bus had ended up with an accident."
Ramesh covered his face with his hands.
"There were children being taken out. They were crying and oh, lots of blood all around!"
"Even to this day, I shudder to think what I saw. Many of the children were taken to the hospital. The driver had jumped at the last moment and escaped with minor injuries! The children, well most of them recovered as well."
Ramesh paused, as if to grab some fresh air.
"But there was one casualty. Do you know who?"
Sarika quipped, "The conductor?"
"No, this was the boy who grinned at me, Rakesh. His head got somehow trapped and had heavy bleeding. The doctors tried a lot. He was even moved to another city, another hospital. But, he did not survive."
"That dead body could have been me, Sarika! Do you understand?"
"When I think about it today, it seems that the last grin of his was not to taunt me, it was to congratulate me on my life!"
"Not a single day passes when I don't think of that grin and his last glimpse!"
"What would you call it, Sarika, if not destiny?"
There was silence all around. Only the waves made their occasional splash.