This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
She was flipping through the albums on the website; happy faces with grins plastered over them stared back at her. She was having a conversation with herself, ‘”Are those people really that happy? No one can be that happy all the time! I do know for a fact that he has money problems but look at him, he looks like he owns the world! I don’t get it, this girl complains so much about her philandering boyfriend and yet look at them smooching for the world to see! How fake!’” She was disgusted by the artificial lives these people lived, but was hers any different?
She was lost in a reverie when she was shook up by the constant blinking of the orange chat tab. Her face lit up, he had messaged! She quickly opened the chat box to see his message.
Abhinav: “Hey! How are you? J” She was literally swooning, she noticed the smiley at the end of his message, it could mean everything or nothing.
Malini: “Hiiiii! Am good! What about you?” She regretted the I’s as soon as she sent the message, was she too eager?
Abhinav: “Am fine yaar! Just at work, taking a break right now. Same with you?’ What would she tell him, that she had been eagerly waiting for his message and that she was daydreaming about him?
Malini: “Oh nice! I am at work too, but we recently finished a project so no more deadlines for a while.” She didn’t want to tell him that her manager was at his wit’s end with her output. Her interest for work had waned in recent times and she was just not herself, and her manager wasn’t talking it in the good spirit.
A spirit her manager was, he promptly presented himself over her cubicle even as she was thinking of him. “Miss.Malini, I heard you typing away furiously at your keyboard and wondered which task of utmost priority you had taken up. May I know?” She noticed that he used miss when speaking, he usually used it only when he was very angry and she didn’t like it.
“Ranjeet, nothing really. Is there something you want me to work on?” She tried to be as earnest as she could. Puppy dog faces wouldn’t work on him, atleast not in this mood. She tried to make the most earnest face she could, her eyebrows scrunched up together, her big almond eyes widened and her small lips broke out in a smile. Her attention wavered a bit when the orange tab kept blinking furiously.
She was fervently hoping that the sticky Ranjeet would leave her alone and let her get back to Abhinav. After listening to a few more sarcastic comments about her declining productivity and some not so encouraging observations she was finally left to her own means.
She scrambled and got to her desktop, and opened the chat window to see a flurry of messages.
Abhinav: “Hey, what happened to that photograph you promised me last time we spoke?”
Abhinav: “It’s not that I am pressuring you to send me one but you can atleast update it on your facebook profile na. None of your friends have also tagged you in any of the pictures!”
Abhinav: “hey, am sorry if I offended you. Hahah, I sound like some desperate pervert you would meet on facebook who wants to see your photograph!”
Abhinav: “Are you there Malini? Am sorry, if you don’t want to, don’t put up your picture”
Her heart thudded as she scrolled down the messages he had been sending her. She saw that he was offline now. Oh god! What do I do now? Would he think am angry with him? Will he go away? I don’t want him to! Stupid Facebook! Why can’t people just live their life instead of on Facebook. She failed to realize that she had sent him a ‘friend request’ on Facebook and that’s how their friendship had grown. She had one of those profiles where a popular actress graced the profile picture. It was not that she wasn’t pretty, she was just extremely shy. Pretty much a loner since childhood, the lure of technology had failed to trap her. She used social networking at its most unsocial form.
She was hyperventilating; she had no clue what to do. She desperately wanted to tell him that it was all okay; she couldn’t think straight and just sat there trying to take in deep breaths. And slowly she regained her composure; she saw light at the end of the dark tunnel she was in. She started talking to herself again, it gave her a sense of calm. “Okay, so am just going to write him an email telling him that ^*^$#%& Ranjeet had come along and I couldn’t reply to him because of that. But then, will he understand? Why should he believe me?”
She felt truly helpless; she didn’t have too many close girl friends to discuss her problem with. She had completely fallen in love with Abhinav. A few pokes and random chats on Facebook had led to an exchange of messenger ids and eventually phone numbers. But it had remained only that, none of them ever wanted to take it further. She knew how he looked, he was one of those dark handsome guys. He had curly hair and he seemed like a very popular guy. She never quite understood why a guy like him would be interested in her. She had no photographs of herself and there was no clue he would know how she looked. He had been sweet and nice, always ready to listen to her. In her world, he was her prince charming, ready to whisk her off to a fairytale. She believed in old world romances, but what she was embarking on was definitely not one.
She stared out of the glass window and looked at the gleaming steel and glass buildings surrounding her office. She thought hard of ways to make him believe that she was fine with him asking her photograph, and then she figured the best way to tell him it was okay was to send him a photograph! Brilliant she thought! She reached out to her bag and took out her camera, the only thing she was possessive about. Photography was her passion, an outlet to vent her feelings, and that was why Abhinav had come across her. He had loved her photographs and commented on them, and it had spurred her on to send him a request.
She locked her computer screen and rushed out of her cubicle. Swapping her card at different terminals she finally ended up on the terrace of the building. It was a wide open space and housed the recreation area but she moved away and found a secluded place. She settled down and fixed her tripod and the camera trying to figure out the best angle to shoot some great photographs. She had done this several times, but today she wanted it to be perfect. She became quite conscious of herself, fixing up her hair, tying her wavy hair and leaving it open for other pictures. And then finally she clicked a photograph she loved. She did look pretty in the photograph, her silky hair waving in the wind and she giving her best smile. The backdrop of the modern buildings was a contrast to her soft features and complemented her really.
She rushed back to her desk and uploaded the photo onto her desktop, and started writing the email she had been waiting for the longest time. It read……
I am sorry I couldn’t reply to you back then, it wasn’t because I didn’t like what you said, I was just caught up with work. I am sending you a photograph of myself; I hope I am all you imagined J
We have been friends for a while now and have gotten quite close, my day starts and an end with your messages and it’s been great! I have been waiting for you to say something but finally I summed up enough courage to tell you that I really like you.
I want to take this further. Let me know what you think……
She hit sent and opened her facebook account to see if he had messaged her when she saw a wall post.
‘Abhinav Sharma is in a relationship with Kavitha Lakshman’.