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Seen Zoned, IRL

It turned ‘seen’ instantly, like never before. Bundles of crackers went off in my heart.

The beauty of WhatsApp lies in the fact that it has connected me to the people whom I have never spoken to when we met. 
For instance, one of my friends became my best friend after we started texting. One day after my birthday, he had texted me for the first time. He wished and also apologised for late wishes. I could feel the muscles in my stomach intertwining, a hurried impetus rushing down my knees while the Sunday sun caressed my oiled hair. That morning was different. I didn’t feel hungry at all and took a bath first, and this is never the case on other weekends. I switched on the geyser and read that message all over again; behind that smiley I could see him smile, showing his metallic braces and flicking his hair back with his long fingers. I quickly showered and sat down to eat dosa, before it got over. But I have no memory of eating it. All I can remember is me sitting cross-legged in my grey track pants and hair rolled up in a towel. We texted about usual things and on seeing his display picture, I thought he had changed, that he looked better previously. That day, the letters in my book seemed too difficult to understand, all of them zoomed in and blank. I gave up and decided to visit my friend. In vain my eyes were constantly on the tool bar, did I receive a message? What is it? He told me about the new cafe in our town. One thing about this whole conversation was that the very moment after sending a message, he was gone. I don’t know why he did that. Perhaps I had fallen for that habit too. I didn’t reply to those messages as soon as I saw them, though my mind and heart synced immediately, briskly thinking what to reply. Fingers shivered while I typed and each letter on the keyboard popped up.
Initially I texted him. I was the first one to start conversations, but eventually chats became boring and they started becoming like interviews, I asking questions and he answering them. There were no questions from his side. What if he became disgusted, creases on the forehead deepening and eyes becoming smaller and smaller, like that face which he often made after losing a football match with juniors? I stopped texting and got busy.
I tried forgetting about my online friend. But he texted again. I seen-zoned his message for a minute, but realized how much I had missed talking to him. I pulled the quilt close to my neck and held my phone close to my eyes, while my head rested on the pillow. I typed letter by letter and read the message before tapping on the send button. It turned ‘seen’ instantly, like never before. Bundles of crackers were going off in my head and heart. For once, I stopped hearing the fan in my room. That night it felt like he had all the time to talk to me, tell trivial things, laugh over his own dumbness. He typed longer messages than mine. I read them with all my attention, placing a strand of hair behind my ear. 
But, all this seemed imaginary when I met him. The boy in my head – or maybe in his display picture - had grown up, and he looked weird without the braces, I thought. Those teeth now gnawed at supari. He spoke with his eyes piercing into mine, I shifted my gaze. While the other guys seemed to not care, this one made sure I ate a little and tried to know what I had been up to. See this is why, dil yahi rukh ja zara. I kept nodding and glancing at the tables across the room. When plump girls do not eat, it becomes another joke on dieting. Some of the uncles and aunties threw glances at the bottles on our table, the boys and I. X did not seem to like my presence; I did not like his presence either. Since we were glued onto the same sofa, we decided to talk. “I am back into business..” he said, then a round of talk on stocks and shares sprouted on the table. I felt disconnected but was nodding and occasionally smiling. I do not know why I did that. I left after the bill arrived; perhaps I had been waiting to go home. All the excitement to see them (him?) had vanished and become stale.  
Even so, my heart tumbled a bit when he texted later that evening, asking if I was fine, that I had looked uncomfortable. “We talked all business stuff that’s why I wanted to ask..”. That damn heart sprang back to its position. I had to (did I have to?) assure him that I had learnt about shares in economics classes and that I was acquainted with everything that they spoke. Some cuss words also, that they said. I do not know if this statement stemmed from the stereotype of me being a girl or that an Arts kid only knows Shakespeare. 
My professor VJ says, after breaking away the only way is forward. I take a step back and exit the chat.
Purvi secretly wishes Ayan Mukherjee directed her life. When not dreaming of mountain treks and kdrama leads, she happens to write and live a secret life.
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