While cleaning her father’s room, Judith discovered letters written by her ex-boyfriend, Dev, who she dated when he was an exchange student at NYU. She thought he had moved on, and now, she had to confront her father to hear the shocking truth.
Judith returned to her father’s house in suburban Manhattan after dropping off her son, Ethan, at his high school. She was in-between homes at the moment because of her divorce. She and Matthew were never a good couple, but her father, Mr. Phillips, had insisted on the relationship. She caved, thinking it was the best choice because Matthew’s family was wealthy, but money is not enough to maintain a marriage.
Therefore, they separated, and now, she was back home. She was also looking for a new job as she had been a stay-at-home mother for several years. But slowly, Judith would get on her feet and get her son through this challenging time.
But today, she had nothing to do and decided to clean the entire house to relax. They had a maid that came once a week, but Judith liked housework. She started with the kitchen and eventually reached her father’s bedroom. She wasn’t much of a snooper, but something strange caught her eye after opening the bottom drawer of her father’s dresser.
It was a bunch of opened, crumpled letters, and a name stood out: Dev Singh. She only knew one Dev in the entire world, and he was her ex-boyfriend. Dev had been an exchange student from London at NYU in the late ‘90s, and they started dating almost immediately. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen with gorgeous skin and soulful eyes. He captured her heart instantly.
Furthermore, he was the best cook ever, and Judith fell madly in love way too quickly. They made plans to move to California, get married, and start their lives. But Dev had to return to London after graduation for a few months. He was supposed to get his visa and paperwork sorted, but they planned to stay in touch through letters.
She wished they had emails back then, but it wasn’t the case. So, letter-writing was the only option. However, Judith’s heart broke when she received a letter where Dev told her he would marry an Indian woman and stay in London. She cried herself to sleep for many nights afterward.
“What if” stayed in the back of her mind forever.
Her heart was so heavy that she listened to her father when he introduced her to one of his friends’ sons. They started dating and got married because they both wanted a family. And Judith thought that if Dev was moving on so quickly, then so should she. But she learned that that was not a good idea. After years of being unhappy in their marriage, they finally decided to divorce.
It was hard on their teen son, but he would benefit in the long run from seeing both his parents happily separated. So that’s why finding Dev’s letters in her father’s drawers was so strange. Dev told her she didn’t want any communication with her anymore. And why did her father have them? They were almost hidden in his drawers.
I can’t wait to see you again. We’ll go to California and be so happy. I’ve never felt like this before…
The entire letter was about how much he missed her. She couldn’t understand what was going on. In one letter, Dev asked her why she wasn’t replying to his letters. His succeeding letters the following months bore the same message until the letters stopped eventually. And by then, she was engaged to Matthew.
“This is insane,” she whispered to herself. But her father walked in just then.
“What’s insane?” he asked with a smile, but it quickly vanished when he saw what Judith was looking at. She stood up quickly, angry tears gathering in her eyes and ready to confront her father about these letters.
“What is this, dad? Why do you have Dev’s letters? I never saw them! I received a letter that he was getting married, but these messages say something completely different! WHAT DID YOU DO?!” she yelled, her voice rising with every word.
Her father raised his hands, trying to appease his daughter. “Please, Judith. Please understand. I wanted you to marry Matthew. His father and I had already planned it. It was the best option for you, and you were talking about moving to California. I didn’t want that either. It was a crazy dream,” he began. But Judith screamed some more.
“Tell me exactly what you did!”
“I exchanged the first letter he sent you. I wrote that he was getting married and moving on,” the older man said and hung his head. “I’m so sorry. I truly thought you would be happier with Matthew.”
“You intercepted all his other letters too and kept them? How could you? WHY?” she cried, holding the precious letters in her hands but looking directly at her father with an unfathomable expression.
“I just didn’t like him, okay? Please, you must forgive me. You wouldn’t have Ethan if you had run off with him,” Mr. Phillips continued, and Judith shook her head, not knowing what to do.
“I love my son with my entire heart. But this… this is something I’ll never forgive you for, dad. Dev was the love of my life. And I can’t even imagine where we would be if you hadn’t done this,” Judith whispered, afraid that raising her voice would make her break down even more.
She had yet to find a new place, but she couldn’t stay with her father anymore. So she called a friend, packed her and Ethan’s things, and went to stay with her. She rushed into the new apartment search and found something perfect nearby.
Once they got settled, Judith decided to look Dev up on Facebook. There were several Dev Singhs, but she recognized his picture immediately and clicked on it. His profile revealed that he had moved to California. But he was married and had several kids with his wife.
“They look really happy,” she mumbled to her laptop screen. But she decided to send him a message, explaining everything her father had done.
Dev replied a few days later:
Judith. It’s so lovely to hear from you. I can’t believe what you’re telling me but always wondered why you simply didn’t write at all. I guess it was your father who last wrote me back, pretending to be you and saying you were engaged and getting married. So, I stopped writing and waiting for you. I moved to California on my own and formed a family here.
I don’t know what our lives would be like if we had moved here together. But I honestly don’t regret it. I love my family, and I hope you had a good life too. I’d love to introduce you to them if you’re ever in California. I wish you all the best!
Judith finished reading his message and bawled her eyes out. She was glad he was happy, but she felt cheated out of the happy life they had planned long ago. From then on, she decided to live life to the fullest and avoid having any regrets. She never spoke to her father again.
She worked hard, saved money, and took Ethan on a million trips. They had tons of experiences together, and eventually, she met a wonderful man and got married again. It was great because they were finally her choices and not what someone else planned for her. But the question of “what if” stayed in the back of her mind forever.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t let others make choices for you. Judith married Matthew because she was so heartbroken after receiving the fake letter from Dev. But she shouldn’t have listened to her father and followed her heart.
You might not get a second chance. Although she regretted her life, Dev didn’t. He was happy, and there were was no second chance for them.
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