That hair! That mass of black, curly, coarse hair, held tightly together by a simple rubber band. Where, when did I see it last?

“I can help the next one in line here!”

The farewell party? Or, the airport? No, it must be at her wedding. Wait, I wasn’t even in Bangalore then. Mani’s place?

“Miss?”
“Oh yes, sorry, I was… can I get a veggie burrito?”
“For here or to-go?”
“To-go, please”

It has been a long time in any case. Did I expect it to change, look different? How can I when it never occurred to me till this moment? I have a very carefully pruned memory of those three years. Don’t we discard the weight of a yesterday that does not flatter today?

“That will be six dollars and thirty five cents.” “Credit or debit?”
“Credit”

She will be out of the restroom any minute now. The veggie burrito is still waiting patiently behind a beef taco bowl ponderous with guacamole which will take its time to be wrapped.

“Oh-kay, will you sign this for me, please.” It wasn’t a question.
“Here. Thanks!”
“You have a nice day!”
“You too.”

Her eyes will widen in a familiar sense of surprise when she notices. It’s not a surprise of the place or the event of such a chance meeting, but the time. She will exclaim at the years that went by without a sign of communication. She will not reach out to hug, it was never the chosen expression of affection. She will be married, of course. She will cheerfully inquire why she was not invited for mine. All the while maintaining a steady conversation in English, which never happened before.

“Veggie burrito to-go.”
“Thank you!”

Maybe not today.
Where are those keys? I’d slipped them into the handbag while crossing the street. Did they fall down instead? Not in the pockets of my jeans, there’s room enough for a dollar bill at best there. Would someone have picked them up? They might be lying on the street somewhere. How did I lose them again?

“Miss!”
“Are these yours?”
“Oh! Thank you so much! I was just … thank you!”
“Hey, no sweat!”
“Thanks!”

“Don’t tell me! Is that…? Been so long since I …”

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