Sometimes, things happen out of the blue in life, like an avalanche or a flood, or even the sudden lice infestation women so much worry about. They probably have their own reasons for existing. They may even be mere pieces in the great games God is often playing with us, but to the common man and woman, they appear as random occurrences that might arrive like a blast of wind, knock off their hats and leave; but most often result in some kind of epiphany.
The winds were blowing hard that Wednesday. Swara sat huddled in a corner, a petite figure, her newly cut hair outlining her heart shaped face. Now and then she looked up from her book at the clock and brown eyes shining, went back to her book. An hour passed thus and she shut her book and sighed, with the air of a person who has just ticked off everything in their things-to-do-before-I-die list and realized that they were not dead yet. It had been two months since she had come home from university on her summer break, and she had read every book she wanted to, sung till her throat ached, jogged till her thighs screamed and talked till her vocal cords protested.
Born into an orthodox Hindu home, Swara Subramanian had been trained in every art that the society demanded of a Hindu girl, except that of cooking. Her aversion to mastering culinary skills arose from her feminist ideals that she kept safely buried inside her. A woman is not required to cook if she doesn’t want to was her belief, but of course, as she did not want to spend the rest of her life being lectured by every elder in the society, she kept the thought to herself. Instead she spent her time burying her nose in every book she came across, learning to sing, and just existing on the earth. At other times, she logged on to Facebook, looking through updates ranging from “My dog kissed me” to “I am feeling sad” and wondering why she was there in the first place.
It was one such Wednesday when she came across a contest on a Harry Potter fan page. It was about an Omegle hunt.
Omegle, she typed out furiously, and the Google search page (10 million results in 1.5 seconds) showed her it was a chat house for random people. Swara sighed. She wasn’t cut out for speaking to people she had known for ages. Talk about random chat houses.
“Swara… Come help me with lunch kanna”, Swara’s mother called out from the kitchen, using the sobriquet as a mark of affection.
Swara’s mind performed a quick mental calculation. If she helped out mother now, she would surely be called a second time for a similar monotonous chore. Worse, she might like the process, and the little Indian warrior in her who wanted to wield a sword against any and all form of chauvinism wouldn’t approve at all.
“Busy ma…”, she screamed and clicked on Omegle. She would take on random people any day.
Interests?, it asked.
Meh, she thought and left it blank, opting to speak to a stranger she had no common interests with.
After a few milli-seconds, which Swara used to switch on her stereo, she was connected to an absolute stranger.
“Hey… 26 male here!” typed the stranger.
Great. An unemployed person. Which other 26 year old would do this anyway?
“Hello there, 20 female here.”
“Cool, where are you from?”
“Whoa, really? That is so cool!”
No, it isn’t.
“I guess… spiritually, visually blah. You get the drift. Where are you from?”
“Canada. And sure I do. Also the land of beautiful women. I’d like to visit someday”
Flattery. For the umpteenth time that day, Swara sighed.
“Yeah well, sure. We may even end up meeting.”
And so it went on. Before Swara knew it, she had discovered that Dave was a student of optometry, which he had abandoned for Psych studies and gone on to join a hospital for children, which he had abandoned for advertising. He loved soft music. And he loved cooking.
That had her hooked, and that was how it all started.
Swara poured out her own interests, and was surprised to find that she could speak to the stran..Dave with no inhibitions. Common sense restrained her from exchanging an email id or a number, but as the conversation proceeded, she found herself enjoying his company more and more.
“So many! Chinese, American, even French girlfriends. Every time, my mum’s eyes roll higher and higher!” typed Dave, when Swara had mildly enquired about his love interests.
Swara smiled, conjuring up an image in her mind’s eye.
“That must have been interesting”
“I wonder what she’d say if I took home an Indian girl”
Swara froze. She wanted to giggle and gulp at the same time.
“I know this escalated quickly for an Omegle chat, but do you want to meet up again?” typed the stranger, when Swara hadn’t replied for a few milli seconds (which she used to gulp down some water).
Hit the disconnect button, screamed her upbringing while the mini swordswoman in her heart pranced about doing a little dance.
“I know, I’d hate not to know you better. We should talk againJ”
And it was done. They devised a devious method by which they could meet each other again in Omegle, where no stranger could be matched twice. At least that is what Omegle thought.
They spoke every day, and soon Swara looked forward to the rendezvous every evening the most. As it goes with such things, it was not long before the inevitable happened.
“So I was wondering… You’re 26 and I’m just 20. Why do you keep coming back?”
“Do you really want to know, Swara?”
She had never been a stickler for melodrama all her life, but Swara suddenly wanted to know. And know very badly.
“Yes, Dave, with all my heart.”
“It’s because I’m in love with a stranger. A stranger I have never seen before. A stranger called Swara.”
There was no milli-second pause this time.
“You have never even seen me, Dave.”
“I don’t need to, I’m in love with the woman in you, and she is smart, funny and beautiful. That is all that matters to me now.”
Swara, the advocate of being single, the hater of lovey-dovey romance, a person who single handedly wanted to destroy people who put up sappy statuses on facebook. Are you really going to do this?
“I love you too” she simply wrote back.
The realization that she wasn’t single anymore struck her as being rather pleasant. She had a boyfriend. Take that, orthodoxy. Both Dave and she realized however, that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. It would end someday, as a white Jew man had as much chance of dating an Indian Hindu girl as the Titanic had had of not sinking. They agreed to spend their days enjoying the feeling they had for each other, until the day came when they had to finally”disconnect”. Swara still refused to give him his Id and he didn’t persist either.
Swara should have heard the peals, but then, she was literally, blindly in love.
It happened suddenly one day that Dave didn’t come online. Swara dismissed it as nothing of importance, after all, he had to work and he might have been busy. The second day passed thus too. When on the third day, Dave was missing, Swara fretted in a corner of her room the whole day. A week went by. Maybe he was on a tour? Two whole weeks passed before she realized Dave wasn’t coming back.
There was no love story. There was no Dave. Omegle was done playing cupid.
Hoodwinked by a man of 26. Who might not even be 26. Heck, he might not even be a man.
The next day her status update read, “Beware of the internet. It can give you heartache.” She went back to being her old introverted, single self. The swordswoman in her still swung her sword, though with restrain, as if she was apologetic.
In another part of the word, 26 year old Dave, recovering from a terrible motor accident had just managed to get his hands on a computer. He had been bedridden and unable to move a limb for the past two weeks, but he knew his Swara would be there for him, waiting. Breaking into a soft smile thinking of her, he eagerly logged on and waited.
Beware of the internet. It can give you heartache, indeed.