This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
As I was dusting the shelves, the picture of my best friend and me sitting in the water when we were 4 years old fell on the ground and shattered. It deeply disturbed me as it was one of my favorite pictures. My friend Mona and I were neighbors and we practically grew up together like twin sisters. We went to the same school till 12th grade and did our college together. There was nothing that I hid from Mona or her from me. The people in the apartment used to tease us saying “Hope you girls don’t end up marrying the same guy.” That was 12 years back. We got married 5 years back in the same year, but to different guys of course.
I ended up living in India and she had to move to the US with her husband. We missed each other terribly. But distance does create a gap in any relationship I feel. We who used to hang out with each other every day could only talk once or twice a week. Then we had our babies and life became even more hectic and our phone calls also reduced to once a month or so. But the real reason I should say why I drifted away from her was the small green monster of envy that had started engulfing me. She was having a wonderful life in the US is what I imagined seeing all the pictures and the way she spoke about it. Here I was in India, living in a joint family and rendering the trials and tribulations of staying together in a small 2 bedroom house. We never went to many vacations as Mona did and did not have much fancy stuff either. But my husband was a gem. He was a kind and loving man and a good father to my kids.
The shattered picture frame felt like a bad omen for me. So I called up Mona’s mom but it was busy. I called up my mom to ask how things were and she sounded the same. May be I was panicking without any reason. Sometimes these superstitions were just superstitions and I carried on with my day.
In the evening I got a call from Mona herself. After saying my name she started sobbing. “Mona, Mona what is it? What happened? Tell me. Calm down first. Okay take a deep breath. What is it Mona? Is everything okay?” “No its not. I don’t even want my mom to know. You are the first person that came to my mind. Mona my biopsy result for the mammogram was positive. I am so scared and feel so lonely. Who will take care of my kids? I am so scared Mona. My husband doesn’t even take this seriously and he is busy with his work. I have been going alone to all these tests and taking care of the kids and house too. Sometimes I wish I had a life like you living in a joint family with everyone’s love and support. I am terrified.”
What she said struck a nerve with me. The grass is always greener on the other side. All these years I hadn’t valued the support that I had by my family and in-laws and was only looking at the negatives. I closed my eyes for a second and thanked God for what he had given me and then in a calm voice I spoke to Mona.
“Mona first don’t start panicking. It might be a benign tumor which can be treated. First thing, sit with your husband and tell him how you feel. Ask him if you can come here and take the treatment. Here all of us are there for you. We will take care of the kids while you recover from the treatment. Nothing will happen to you. You first convince your husband and once you book your flight tell your mom that you are just visiting India. Once you land here we will let them know. Mona everything will be okay. You have always been the brave one so you can do it.”
1 year later…. Mona came to India and got her treatment done with all of us around her. She convinced her husband that they should move back to India so that they could be closer to their family and friends. No amount of money can bring the comfort and love that only loved ones can provide they decided and she is also looking for a house near mine so that our kids can grow up together just as we had.