Traffic signal was turning orange, I stepped on the accelerator to cross the signal before it turned red. I missed it by the nick of time. Impatient, restless as I am, I turned the volume up to the maximum while I waited for the signal to turn green again.
A sad looking old lady’s face appeared on the side window, she knocked on the window glass with quivering hands. I don’t give alms to beggars but she was not begging. She appeared a dignified lady and was selling ‘agarbattis/essence stick’ on the Chirag Delhi traffic signal. It was late in the night, she was probably trying to make the last sale of the day. Her face appealed to me, I rolled the glass window down and bought a packet of agarbattis.
When I bought them, I didn’t know if they will ever be used. My mother prays everyday, she light diya in front of various gods in the small temple at home. I have never seen her lighting agarbattis and I only worship occasionally. So to me the agarbatti packet was wasted. I had bought it to help the lady, it was late in the evening and she looked desperate. That night, destiny was giving me a signal. I have always believed that god is on my side so may be he was trying to prepare me to face the future. Standing on that traffic signal, little did I know that the same agarbattis will be unfortunately lit in front of my father’s photograph, the very next day.
Since that day, I have cursed myself everyday for buying those agarbattis. There is no correlation in those agarbattis and my father’s demise but my head and heart refuses to believe that.
I still cross that signal often. That lady still sells agarbattis there. For very long, I didn’t look at her to avoid evil omen. I hated her and was too sacred to even look at her, it wasn’t her fault but how do you convince a grieving heart.
Time has healed the wounds. I don’t hate her and I am not scared of her anymore but I still don’t have courage to buy agarbattis from her. I don’t think I can ever be that brave.