|John_Smith221B:||Yes ma’m. What’s keeping you up so late?||3:39am|
|Persephone4ever:||I could ask you the same thing||3:39am|
|John_Smith22B:||And where would answering questions with questions get us?||3:40am|
|Persepheon4ever:||Hah. Where do you live?||3:40am|
|John_Smith221B:||I come from Mumbai. You?||3:42am|
|Persephone4ever:||I live in the Himalayas. Lansdowne.||3:42am|
|John_Smith221B:||What? Are you serious?!||3:44am|
|Persephone4ever:||Hahah, yes. It’s a small town (typing…)||3:44am|
I was 16 then. The next morning I was to be shipped off to Delhi to attend my wedding. They call Himalayas the manifestation of celestial wisdom; and yet there I was, in a town surrounded by snow white mountains on all sides, being emotionally blackmailed into marriage because of my birth defects. Being deaf and mute made me a super-subaltern, but over time I saw certain upsides to my condition too. My father ran a cyber cafe and since I couldn’t connect with people around me, I began making pen friends online. On the internet I wasn’t a dumb deaf victim of fate. With some friends, I’d pretend to be a 25 year old Goth junkie, while with others, I was 38 year old lecturer oftantric Buddhist ritesor a 70 year old lady with two dozen cats. I was always cautious though, and never gave personal details to strangers. But that night was different. That night, I wanted to risk it all.
Which is why, when John_Smith221B requested to be my pen friend at 3:32am I accepted without ado.
|John_Smith221B:||wow, small town in the mountains. Wonder what it must be like…||3:46am|
|Persephone4ever:||It’s beautiful most of the time.||3:46am|
The air here is musical. When I squint my eyes while looking at the sun, I can paint pictures with the light on the blue sky. And the trees have the history of the planet etched on their barks, if you’ve got the time for it. My favourite are the birds though. The bar-headed geese. Did you know they fly all the way over to the Himalayas every spring? Most of them go to Tibet, but we get a few here now and then. As a kid, I always thought they came all the way over, just to tell me about the world below
|John_Smith22B:||Woah! you must be really attached to the place!!||3:55am|
|Persepheon4ever:||True. sorry about the tangent. It’s just that I leave this place tomorrow…
I wondered if my words had touched him or made him think I was a dreamy fool. Had I made the conversation too personal. I did not want my last night of freedom to be about my abysmal tomorrow!
|Persephone4ever:||So. What does the city sound like?||3:56am|
Well, I guess it sounds like getting caught in a conversation with too many different people all at once.
|Persephone4ever:||doesn’t sound very cool…||3:57am|
|John_Smith22B:||In the beginning it’s not. But chaos is like a language. Not very difficult to learn. You’ve never visited a city before?||3:58am|
|Persepheon4ever:||No, I’ve always preferred the quiet. I guess I’ll just have to believe you.||3:58am|
|John_Smith221B:||Always a good choice||3:58am|
We chatted on, about the simplest things in the universe. I masked my disabilities, wondering what would happen if I told him.I didn’t want to know.
|John_Smith221B:||Have you tried catching sunlight in your hands?||6:02am|
|Persephone4ever:||You have the most amusing ideas, Mr. Smith||6:02am|
|John_Smith221B:||Haha I’m serious.||6:02am|
|Persephone4ever:||Which makes me realize sun’s rising now. My father will be up soon. I should go||6:03am|
|John_Smith22B:||You don’t have to go just because he gets up||6:03am|
|Persepheon4ever:||He’ll want to close the café. Our train leaves this morning.||6:03am|
|John_Smith221B:||Cafe? Your father runs the 24 hours internet cafe in Lansdowne?||6:04am|
|Persephone4ever:||Um, yes. He’s up now. And this is where I bid you adieu! Farewell John_Smith221B||6:07am|
|John_Smith221B:||No, wait! I think I know who you – (typing…)||6:07am|
|Persephone4ever is now offline|
I splashed cold water on my face til it betrayed no sign of sleeplessness. My mother and aunts bustled around me as I got ready for “the big day”. Everything happened so quickly, as if they had been preparing for today since forever. So as not to wallow in self pity, I kept thinking about the previous night. I wondered what his real name was, what his laughter sounded like, why he was befriending strangers online…
My last picture of the village would have been the mountains, had it not been for a curious young man waving his hands at our jeep. My father wouldn’t stop. He didn’t want us to miss the train. The young man became a bizarre blur in the scenery.
There was only one internet cafe between the three villages of that hill. I had visited there a couple of times after my parents sent me to live with my grandparents in the neighbouring village last month. I had heard of her – the cyber-wala’s wordless daughter. Was she the girl I was talking to last night? I peddled my cycle over the hill with divine fury, but in vain. I followed the jeep as far as I could and then took to ridiculously waving my arms at them, hoping she could see me. I would’ve called out to her. Maybe that would’ve stopped her. But how would she have heard me, given I couldn’t speak or hear myself in the first place.