She stared at screen. The messaging app flashed his message, the notification bar showed his missed call.
Glancing up from her phone, she looked around. She’d stopped at the intersection between the two subway routes. She smiled internally, just like her life. Monita knew she had to choose between the two options life had presented her.
Despite the subway crowding with some of the rush-hour commuters, she stopped before the two staircases.
Everyday, hundreds of people wandered about this subway, with their designated routines and fixed destination. Monita wondered how many of them had to choose between love and duty. At first glance, it seemed easy- pick the one your heart desired the most. But her life of struggles and rejections, as the third daughter in a lower-middle class family had taught her, never to discard any opportunity or blessing without a thought.
Her gaze landed on a couple, strolling arm-in-arm while sharing an ice-cream. She’d already been bound in matrimony when love had knocked at her door. Instead of setting her free, it had brought un-needed complications in an otherwise organised life. Marriage to a ‘well-settled’ but cold man had let to a life of calculated interactions. Sometimes her husband’s callous behaviour hurt Monita, but a glance at the comforts and privileges enjoyed by Mrs Shujit reminded her of the cost of divorce. Maybe she was materialistic, or perhaps her childhood dream of living in luxury when she grew up, made her unable to give up on her current lifestyle and the marriage tied to it.
But then, her lover was completely opposite to the man whose surname had been added to her own. A talented artist with the spirit of wanderlust, Ashim had struggled to understand her need for a stable and secure foothold in the present. Watching him paint, dance at parties, laugh at silly jokes, brought a smile to her face. He brought out the buried emotions and vulnerabilities within her, made her see herself in a new light and most important of all, accept all the parts of her soul- the good and the bad.
Monita glanced at the two sets of stairs, one would lead to Shujit waiting at the curb of Victoria Street and the other to Ashim’s flat near the Taj Compound, where he was waiting for her answer. Could she go back to the life she’d lived for last three years before she met her artist? Or could she take the free-fall that the next two years of South Indian Heritage Project would bring in his life? Moving from city to city, living from assignment to assignment, enjoying the night with no idea what the day would bring them.
She recalled a poem she’d read in her 10th grade. The poet, Robert Frost had spoken of two diverging roads in a forest, where the traveller had to select one.
Even as she embarked on ‘the one less travelled by’, she wondered if Frost and many others after him had regretted their choice.