“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" - J.K. Rowling
Radesh looked out of his office window, from the 34th Floor of his office building in Manhattan. Looking down at the people, walking like a stream of ants was one of his stress-busting mechanisms in operation. As strange as it may sound, this insignificant activity always gave him a sense of confidence, a feeling that he can take on the whole world. "Sir, there is one Mr. Himanshu wanting to see you, says he is an old friend. Should I send him in?", Ms. Suzy asked her boss over the intercom. "Himanshu? What is he doing here? After all these years?" Radesh mumbled to himself. "Yes send him in", he told her, with reluctance in his voice.
Himanshu stepped into his posh office. "Being the Vice President of a firm such as this surely has its perks", Himanshu felt jealous at Radesh's success. In college, no one even dreamed that he would go on to scale such heights in his career. Rising from the rank of an engineer, Radesh clawed his way to the top. He was hard-working and sincere, which was enough to attract the attention of the top-management. "He made all the right choices I guess", Himanshu wondered.
"Hey Himanshu, kaisa hai bey tu? No call, no email, just dropping by all of a sudden? I hope things are fine with you"
"Hi Radesh. Well, sorry about that boss. I wasn't aware that we did not exchange our mail ids at all. I was in this city for something related to my work, and Kinjal told me you work in this area. So I took your address, and decided to drop by and surprise you. How are things with you?"
"Things are fine. I was made the Vice President of the firm last month, so things have been a bit hectic lately. Luckily, Manya is a very adjusting woman, so my professional life has not affected my personal life in any way. So life's good. What about you? Where have you been all these years?"
"Travelling all over the world. Thanks to my hectic schedule, I never had the time to settle down and start a family. So I quit my job, and started my own business, in AC Parts Manufacturing. It's running pretty well so far - we made our first profits 6 months ago. And have never looked back since. Got married two years ago. We are expecting our first child in three months"
"Hey congrats! Good to hear that. I always wanted to start my own firm, but never had the guts to take that risk. Once I got married, it was all about the family and the kids. Phew, man! You know it's really a surprise meeting you after a long time, considering what happened between us that night..."
"Yes Radesh, I can understand. But past is past. It cannot be changed. That's the reason I came over here to meet you. I came over here to apologize for whatever I said to you. It was very wrong of me..."
"No man, there is nothing like that..."
"Radesh, please allow me to finish. It has been what, 15 years? For 15 years I regretted what happened that night. You know I was drunk, very drunk..."
"Yes I know..."
"And I failed to realize that you were truly in love with her. And that she loved you too. For her sake, you gave up your seat in IISc man - you know how stupid that move was? Just because you could remain in Delhi where she was posted? For 4 years I was your friend. For 4 bloody years. I used to keep telling you - career comes first, career comes first, and kept telling you the same thing over and over again. But you did not listen to me at all, nope"
"Arey yaar, see..."
"When I saw you at the reunion 10 years ago, I wanted to ask you how you were. But did not have the guts. I was in touch with Kinjal, who told me about your marriage, and on how you were struggling in your job. I did not know if you had forgiven me yet. So I stayed clear off you. And then with all this travelling, I forgot all about this, until last year. I wanted to meet you and ask you for your forgiveness, but never knew if you would forgive me or not. After all that I said to you and to Manya that night, I was very ashamed to even face you"
"Abey sun to le..."
"Now you know what, I am glad you did not listen to me. I am extremely happy that you followed your heart. Look at you now - Vice President. Successful man. You made the right choice Radesh"
"Arey yaar, c'mon. You were my good friend and I am sure you were thinking about my own good. I knew you were drunk and all. But for the next 5 years, my life was pretty hard. Although I was posted in Delhi, I was sent to various other places regularly. It was tough for me, and Manya too. To convince her parents was the biggest challenge I have faced in my life so far. And everyday I used to keep thinking "What if Himanshu was right that night? Did I make the right choice? Was I blinded by love then?" I even contemplated writing GATE once more.You know Himanshu, I always envied you. At the reunion, I was afraid to face you. I felt you were right. And that you would remind me of my decision and mock me. For the first time, I felt like a loser. Kinjal told me about your travels, and I was happy that you got what you wanted".
"I did, but it was nothing like I thought it was. MBA is harsh man, very harsh. And Consulting is tough on the body - all those hours of travelling sucks. You know, for a while, I felt that that the choice I made in the heat of emotion would have been better if left for some other day. But I wanted to prove a point to you - that you made the wrong choice and I didn't. But it finally turned out to be just the opposite..."
"No no, why do you feel like that yaar. You know there is an old saying that "There is no life as complete as the life that is lived by choice". I always remember this quote whenever I feel down and out. You lived your life according to your own choice, so did I. How many of our friends you think actually made decisions according to their own choice? They will keep thinking "What If? all their lives - you and I won't. Because we made our choices, and stuck to it. See where it got us now - you have your own firm, which you always wanted. I have a successful professional career,which I wanted. In the end, it doesn't even matter, right?"
"Hmmm... True, true... But still..."
"See, Stephen Covey once said that until a person can say deeply and honestly, "I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday," that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise". We lived a life according to the decisions we made, and I for one don't regret it. The end is all that matters, don't you think so?"
"Hmm... I guess in the long run it all evens out... So this means you forgive me?"
"Abey, tu bhi naa. Ok, I forgive you. Khush? What forgiveness man? It was a moment of stupidity that both of us took seriously. Dil pe mat le yaar. Mistakes dono taraf huyi thi. I must also ask your forgiveness you know. Anyways, how are your parents and your little brother, Sonu, right?"
"Haan. Sonu is doing well. He cracked IIT and is now working with Google India. Dad is having some heart troubles, but he is doing well too. And mom is, you know naa, just the usual. Man, you have become quite the philosopher!"
"Sunke accha laga sonu ke baare mein. Ha ha ha! Newly married hai naa tu - wait for a few more years, and then you will understand! Phew. It's been a long time since we had such a conversation. Remember how we used to talk about stuff like this in college?"
"Yeah... Wasted a good number of man-hours in sh*t like this. Good atleast one of us made use of it in the right sense"
"Baap re... Tu sahi mein MBA kiya hai bey. Man-hours kehte - aise jargon kaha se utha leta hai tu?"
"12 years consulting kar le, sab seekh jaaoge Radesh, sab seekh jaaoge"
"Anyways, you free for dinner. Manya ko call kartha hoon. She has taken leave today, so she can cook I guess. What say?"
"Ok. but facing her after such a long time, especially after all that..."
"Arey tu phir se usi cheez pe atak raha hain? You know Manya keeps asking about you every once in a while. I am sure she will be very glad to know you are coming."
"Really? Let's hope so Radesh. Let's hope so..."
“Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible.” - Cherie Carter-Scott