“What am I doing here?”
The question bothered me after I saw off my kumpare and his son boarded the jeepney to their next destination, a meeting with another godparent living in the next municipality.
Three hours had passed while our chance meeting and the following conversation kept me from accomplishing my errand in the town center. I wondered what should have I done in the first place.
I held in my hand a liter-sized plastic bottle inside a cellophane bag. It was a clue.
“Why are you staring at it?” someone asked me, obviously he was an acquaintance.
“I forgot why I came to town,” I replied, knowing that my answer was bait for a joker.
“Buy something?” he suggested, his eyes nearly closed when he smiled.
“That’s a certainty,” I replied, looking at stores to jog my memory.
“Why not smell the bottle? I mean, what was inside it.”
“You’re right,” I sounded as an absent-minded guy. “I was sidetracked for hours, you know.”
He was a tricycle driver so he was interested, eyeing me as one of his would-be passengers.
“This smells kerosene,” I immediately removed my nose in front of the lid, the odor turned me off.
“That explains it,” he concluded. “That power outage was hell.”
I bet everyone in the locality was incensed by the long power interruption the other day. Negative sentiments varied from person to person: my favorite was bummer.
“I have to buy safety matches, instant noodles and some canned goods. You see, a small clue leads to another.”
“You came all the way to the town center for those items? You should have bought them at small sari-sari stores back home.”
His comment made sense. I could have saved hours and fare money.
But then, I could have not met my kumpare and my godson if I stayed at home. That episode alone was worth the trip.
“Something dragged my feet,” I explained, even I was amazed by the turn of events. “I wondered why but I did not resist.”
“That’s funny,” he agreed. “I was not coming to town, too, but something pushed me to my vehicle so I drove on. Now, I found you here.”
I was not sure if he was patronizing my situation but perhaps he told the truth to have been influenced by something unexplained.
“Since the gas station is a kilometer away, you could buy the kerosene while I do my groceries. Okay?”
“Can you buy some bread?” he gave me the money. “That would save us time.”
“I saw a neighbor and her children a while ago. I’ll ask them if they’re ready to go home. We could go together.”
“That would be great!” he enthused.
As I watched him maneuvered his vehicle out from the curb to the other side of the road, I kept thinking how pure chance could be considered not chance at all. Our presence was probably timed to converge on a certain place, making us believe that it was just a coincidence, but in reality it was preordained to happen.
Half hour later, we headed home. Even I could not predict how quick we would arrive at our destination. I just let the future decide.