From ‘What If’ To ‘What Is’.


Life had once been defined by linears and absolutes. Life had once been colored all in black

and grey.Life had once been orderly and monotonous.

She had been content; she slept at night with a clean conscience. A devoted mother, an excellent teacher and a wife who tried hard; she was unhappy but she tried. Her weekdays were set in their path like the Earth’s revolutionary orbit and her weekends were just that; the week’s end.

Unhappiness and discontentment are slow gradual feelings. They sneak into your heart, planting seeds of doubt and discord in your mind and make life miserable in general. It’s slow poison. Twenty three years of marriage; Β a long time for those seeds to turn into trees. How does a woman with undeniable beauty and grace, with a passion for life and a heart of gold get reduced to nothing but a haggard shell who goes through the motions of life just because death is Β not an option? When does life become about settling rather than achieving? When do memories from a golden youth become the only reasons for your smile in the present?

It was yet another day of getting stuck in the horror story that is the Delhi evening traffic. Or was it? Her cell phone vibrated, a message on Whats-app. She sneaked a look while waiting for the light to turn green. 132 seconds.

“Hey! Remember me? Rahul here. Long time!”

Of course she remembered. How could she not? He had been one of her best friends back in college. He was the one guy in their group of four. He had been the provider of pens, pencils, samosas and photocopied notes before an exam. He had had a crush on her. She never deigned to acknowledge it. In her eyes he had been a dear friend, a happy-go-lucky boy. That and only that.

“Hello! I remember, obviously. How are you? How’d you get my number? Its been 20 years since we last talked.”

Her heart was beating faster. Odd.

45 seconds.

“I got your number via your Google account. Rita added us both to her circle and voila!”

“Oh! Okay. So where are you these days? What’s up?”

What’s up. Great going she thought to herself.

10 seconds.

“Driving at the moment, TTYL.”

She was looking forward to going home; she drove faster.Having greeted her unappreciative and grouchy teenage son, she settled in bed and powered on the WiFi. 12 new messages.

COO of some technology company, he was living in Dubai and owned a sprawling mansion with a pool. There was a beautiful wife from the perfect love marriage and an adorably fat kid to boot. In twelve short yet surprisingly detailed messages she felt her heart sinking. The initial euphoria of finding a long-lost friend fizzled out and was replaced by sighs of sadness.

What if she had said yes to him? What if she had not dismissed his advances? What if she had not been so short-sighted? What if.

The chats continued and so did her discontentment. The more he told her about how absolutely perfect his life was, the more she hated her own. He sent her pictures of the “view”, the water pump which had been painted blue by his artistic, adorably fat son and of course the photos of his wife.

She started sending photos of her own family. She started recounting her own experiences in life. The family vacations, the school graduations and so much more. She started smiling and feeling good about her own-self. The husband whose loud talking irritated again became the man she loved and married. The teenage son who sulked and brooded, again became her young accomplished boy. And her daughter, well she was her best friend.

The proverbial blast from the past did in-fact shake things up. The blacks and whites of despair became grey infused with long forgotten colors. The routine and monotony continued but this time around, there was satisfaction and security in living.

Order was restored.


39 thoughts on “From ‘What If’ To ‘What Is’.

  1. Aww, lovely story and I really liked the metaphors of “slow poison” and “seeds into trees”. What I love most is how her happiness was reignited. Sometimes the monotony of life makes us forget how much we have to be thankful for.


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  3. I love this so much, Shreya! I think it’s brilliant that, in the end, she finds not an old/new romance, but a healthy dose of perspective on all she already has. Gratitude is undeniably a powerful thing. Well done!


  4. That is such a lovely story Shreya. Especially loved the end: The blacks and whites of despair became grey infused with long forgotten colors. So beautiful!! So so well written!!


  5. Loved the way you paced it Shreya:-)Excellent take on the prompt to show how we stop appreciating things and take people for granted ,hankering for something,not knowing what it is-forgetting to look inside for that elusive happiness and then when we stop comparing,we look with new eyes at the old things and start counting our blessings:-)Very well written.


  6. ‘Unhappiness and discontentment are slow gradual feelings. They sneak into your heart’
    This is so perceptive, I loved it. I wasn’t expecting the happy ending and it cheered me immensely.


  7. I love the positive direction you took in this story. I thought they were going to run away together, but I’m glad this took a different route instead. It may be a sad comment on life today that I found the happy ending to be such a pleasant surprise!


  8. Im so glad you took this in a positive direction. What if’s and greener grass, usually turn out not to be so great or green. Nice reminder of the value of reacquainting ourselves with our younger sleeves and our realities. Nicely done.


  9. This is a very sweet take on life! I love that the bland becomes colorful as the woman communicates with her friend. It is easy to forget that we are all telling our own stories, 100% able to color them however we want to… πŸ™‚


  10. That feeling n question of regret .. ” What if ” , isn’t that what we all ask ourselves every time we face some kind of similar situation as she had faced =)
    great job up there (Y)
    made me remember some stuff and well.. just great story πŸ˜‰


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