Walking home the other day, I faced a huge dilemma when it came to crossing the road.
On one hand, there was the subway. A fairly serviceable subway. Not a five-star subway, but definitely not one of those dimly lit, scary places that double up as public urinals. I use the subway often, and have never been disappointed with it.
On the other hand was the option of joining the crowd gathering at the side of the road, waiting for the slight lull in traffic that would enable to run across. Even if there wasn’t a break in traffic, I knew they people would weave their way through the gaps, forcing the vehicular traffic to stop till they got across.
There was every reason for me to join the crowd- crossing the road directly would be a lot faster than using the subway, and given the number of people waiting to get across, there was no danger of being hit by a passing vehicle. I was grossly tempted to choose that option- at the end of a long day, why invest the effort of climbing down a flight of stairs and climbing up another. Though an arterial road, the traffic was crawling, so I wouldn’t even have to feel guilty about holding someone up for a few seconds.
I made up my mind to cross the road directly, but found I could not bring myself to do so. I used the subway.
Now, if it was a book, one of two things would have happened. Either something horrible would have happened to the people crossing the road- perhaps a driver pressing the accelerator by mistake instead of the brake and leaving a few broken limbs in its wake. Or, something equally horrible would have happened to me in the subway- mugged by a drunk perhaps.
But, since it was not a book, neither happened. I got to the other side safely, as did all the people who chose not to use the subway. End of story!
Not really. Ever since that day, I have been thinking about all the ‘What If’ moments that do not get recorded because the two streams converge without anything substantial having happened. And what about the big ‘What Ifs’? Those momentous decisions that lead you down two very different paths. Do those paths also converge eventually? Will we ever know?