He couldn’t believe it.
She couldn’t believe it either.
Eleven years back in the month of May they met for the first time. They did not actually meet; they talked to each other for the first time then.Both of them were from different cities. The Internet chatting wave was in full swing. Everyone had his/her favourite chat rooms and virtual friendships blossomed everywhere. He was already a veteran. He had formed his own online clique with whom he used to chat at least for an hour everyday. Otherwise a very reserved introvert, he flourished in chat rooms where he didn’t have to feel insecure. He knew it, but he also found solace in the fact that he had made very good friends through chat. Friends he wouldn’t normally have made.
He got introduced to her through a common friend. And soon they were fast friends. The chemistry was great. He liked pulling her leg about everything. She liked the jokes. He was immature and brash. She liked his silliness. He was naive. She took great pleasure in making fun of his naivette. He had never been in any kind of relationship. This was new to him. He flirted, teased and laughed with her, without realizing how attached he was growing. She realized it and mentioned it once. He couldn’t understand and asked, “What do you mean by attached? We are just friends” . But, he soon realized what she meant when he missed her during a week long break. She missed him too. That week changed things. Both of them confessed they had a crush on each other. He proposed for the first time in his life. She accepted it.
They exchanged photographs, thoughts, feelings and kisses – all through the net. It was surreal. He was busy with his studies and could not afford to take a break to visit her. Likewise for her. They grew really close to each other. She was preparing to do a course in advertising. She wanted to make it big in the ad-world. He always would say that she would. This irritated her to no end. He was being too nice and too sweet. She felt it was unreal. And it was true to an extent. He did not know how to handle things. He was confused on what to tell her when she was sad. He tried to always please her and as a result ended up exaggerating. Eventually this started to brew fights between them. They would have angry fights and both of them would not let go. He was too brash and arrogant. She also had too much of self-respect to give in. Eventually they would make up, but the fights left their scars. On the other hand, they also were getting closer to each other. Both of them couldn’t wait for the time the other came online. They would chat for long hours into the night. He was hopelessly in love with her. She was too, but she realized it. Having been in relationships before, she knew the attachment was running deep. She once again mentioned her fears. But he poohed them away. He still couldn’t understand what she meant.
After a year, they finally had a chance to meet. A week before Valentine’s, she had her term break and she could come down to visit him. Both of them were thrilled………and nervous. He couldn’t sleep the night before she was to arrive. She was too nervous to have him pick her up at the station. Both of them fixed up a time and place to meet. They met in a restaurant. The nervousness showed. Both of them felt awkward and didn’t know what to talk. He couldn’t believe this was happening. This was the same girl he had shared thoughts, feelings and dreams he had never shared with anyone. This was the girl he talked to as if she was her childhood friend. This was the girl he was in love with. She was also nervous. She knew how sensitive he was. She didn’t want to say anything untoward.
But things soon improved. They walked the streets for a while. They started feeling comfortable with each other. It seemed to be only the blues. There was a slight drizzle and the roads got wet. She held his hand for support. It was one of the happiest moments of his life. She also began to feel comfortable. They talked for hours together. She would make fun of his various idiosyncracies.The week got better and both of them felt as comfortable as they used to on chat. They shopped, visited pubs and just roamed around with friends. They kissed for the first time. But the week seemed to end too quickly. She had to go back. Both of them wouldn’t admit it, but they felt terribly sad bidding goodbye. He couldn’t believe how he was feeling. He didn’t want to admit to himself that he was so attached to her. But he was. And so was she.
Things seemed to go on a downturn from then onwards. The fights became more frequent. For no apparent reason, they were getting on each other’s nerves. His “too good to be true sweetness” started to irritate her. Her apparent secrecy irritated him. Fate also conspired against it. They both met again but it was nothing like the first time. There were misunderstandings and hidden issues. Two days after they met they broke up. She was always scared of how he would handle it. Her fears came true. He slipped into a state of prolonged depression and went on a drinking binge. Refusing to accept what had happened, he shielded himself into a state of denial. She felt guilty. But she knew she had done the right thing. She was sad too. But she knew the wounds would have been bigger if they had continued.
It took them both some time to get over each other. A bit longer for him because of his denial and unreal hopes of mending back the relationship. Career goals drove them seperate ways. She eventually completed her post-graduation and joined an ad agency. He went on to join a software firm. They would still occasionally chat and just enquire about each other. A couple of years later even this stopped. He moved to USA on a project and returned 4 years later. She had meanwhile steadily climbed through the ranks and was the branch head of Oglivy and Mather at Mumbai.
Today was the launch of a brand new low-priced cellphone by his company. He was present at the function. As he turned around, he saw her. It had to be her. She looked the same as she did on that fateful day they had met.
He went up to her and said, “Hi.. Remember me?”
She took a moment and gasped, “Wow! It is you! What are the chances? What are you doing here? ”
He replied, ” Well, my company is launching the TongueTwister 880. What about you?”
She answered, “What do you know? My agency is handling the campaign”
He grinned, ” See. I was right, wasn’t I?. You do have your own ad agency now!!”
She smiled. He didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t want to ask if she was married. He didn’t know whether he would like either of the answers. She also didn’t what to ask if he had a wife.
He said, ” Well…. I guess I will get going then. It is getting late and my doctor advises me not to drink and stay up late. ”
She nodded, “Good advice. I can’t believe you still drink. You should quit you know” . She could never wipe off the guilt that she was the one who made him take to drinking.
He smiled wryly and went away.