What if?… is such a powerful question, the answer to which can’t be found most of the times. What if I had done things differently? What if I had said this to her/him? What if I had reacted to the situation differently? What if… Even when one finds an answer to this question, there is no satisfaction of knowing the answer as we can’t change what has already happened. It is this question that haunts our protagonist as he reminisces his story. What if…
It was the first day of internship and the new interns had gathered outside the department office in the government hospital. He was standing there with a group of other interns, waiting for the clerk to allot them all to different units of the department when he saw her. She was walking towards the office from the other end of the corridor, deep in conversation with a couple of her friends. Strangely, even though they were in the same batch, he had never seen her before, understandable but regrettable in a batch of 245 students. With the morning light bathing her face in a soft glow, mischief lurking in her eyes as she greeted her friends delightedly, he fell for her hook, line and sinker!
As they were waiting, his eyes drew to her frequently while conversing with his friends wondering how he had never seen her before. A smile lit up his face as he saw her animated expressions explaining something to her friends, but he wiped it off immediately when his friends gave him a strange expression. He was also sending prayers to the almighty above promising him all kinds of good behaviour if he put them together in the same unit. And it looked like his prayers got answered, for when the clerk read out the names of the people in each unit, he could barely contain his happiness when he got to know that both of them were posted in the same unit. He went to her, introduced himself and asked her name even though he had already enquired the same discreetly from his friends. Pity that it was a minor and not a major posting as minor postings in internship are usually for 15 days- 1 month whereas the major ones are for 2 months.
In the next 1 month, as he got to know her better, his feelings grew from infatuation to love. He loved how animated she got when she was talking about her favourite things, how she crinkled up her nose when deep in thoughts, how she was always patient and kind with the patients, how she treated everyone from professors to ward boys the same way with no airs. If he had some difficulty in doing some of the procedures, she was ever so patient with him, helping him out. She would always cover for him if he was late for the posting. Both of them loved horror movies and could talk for hours on the genre and in the pretense of treating the whole staff he used to frequently get pizzas during the break time as he knew that she loved them. After the minor posting ended, they were posted together for a few other postings too and he considers that the best time of his internship. Just seeing her face would brighten up his mood during some dreaded postings and sometimes he still couldn’t believe that he got to know her only towards the end phase of MBBS wondering how he was blind all this time!
Though their friendship grew from day to day, he always felt that she withheld herself a bit in the friendship. Though she listened to him when he shared his woes and consoled him, she never shared her deep thoughts with him. He had asked her out for coffee once, masking it as a joke as he was nervous, but she never took that up, probably not taking him seriously as he was always joking around. And though he had tried to find out what she was doing after the duty hours or over the weekends, discreetly enquiring if she wanted to spend that time with him, she never showed any indication true to that thought. His feelings for her were deepening day by day, but he always had a doubt that she considered him as just a friend and though with each passing day he wanted to confess to her as to how he truly felt about her, every time he chickened out. ‘What if she doesn’t feel the same way about me? What if our friendship gets ruined because of this? What if it leads to an awkward situation between us for the rest of internship? What if she makes fun of my feelings? What if she tells everyone else? What if…’
And in this vortex of What ifs, the internship ended without him confessing his feelings for her. After graduation, both of them went back home and got busy attending the coaching classes for the MD entrance exams. He tried to keep in touch with her as much as possible, but life happened and both of them drifted away. Except for the congratulatory messages they had exchanged when both got MD seats in different parts of India, they haven’t been in contact with each other much to his regret. There have been many times in the past when he almost made the call with the intent of confessing his feelings for her, but his fingers could never hit that call button. He was still plagued by what ifs. And today, as he stares at his phone screen display of the invitation for her wedding that she has sent him through WhatsApp, he couldn’t help himself from wondering ‘What if I had told her how I felt about her when I had the chance? What if…’