Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

Lies

A good movie is intellectually stimulating. Especially, a Mani Ratnam flick. Fresh from watching ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’, I stifled a yawn and flopped onto the bed, thinking about the Tamil refugees of Sri Lanka, on which the award-winning movie was based on.

It was about 11PM. On a normal day, I’d be sleeping like a log by this time. I closed my eyes, with the soothing notes of ARR’s ‘Vellai pookkal’ giving me company. It was a long day. 3 movies at a stretch isn’t exactly good for your eyes. They were literally pleading for some much-needed rest. So was my body. My running nose, thanks to the cold I’d caught wasn’t helping either. It was time to embrace morpheus’s arms…

But, I didn’t.

The standard edition android clock silently proclaimed the time – 3.22 A.M. Nearly four and a half hours had passed since I hit the bed and the god of sleep was yet to bless me. Now, this is queer, for, I’ve never lost sleep in the past few years. Whatever be the day, sleep would be setting in by 10.30 and I’d be flat by 11. Today, something went wrong somewhere. Hmmm.

I went by all the rules in the book to get some sleep. Yes everything, from counting non-existent sheep to reciting the many names of Lord Arjun. Virtually all of them fell flat. Within a couple of hours, I’d see daybreak. I was bored and tired, but not sleepy.

How in the world would I sleep?

I groped in the dark and picked up my phone and started doing something which was my last ditch effort at getting some sleep – browsing through my phone’s contacts and messages. Now, I’ve over a thousand contacts in my phone, thanks to Sony Ericsson’s facebook sync. I usually filter out the FB contacts and just opt for the few 100 ones in the phonebook, but for some reason, FB sync was enabled.

Now, that’s odd. I clearly remembered disabling sync. Mainly cause I keep contacts with only a few close friends and I didn’t want my phone to be cluttered with numbers and emails of random acquaintances whose number stood at a whopping 2k.

Anyway, I gestured my thumb and the long list of contacts flowed down, name by name. Most of them were acquaintances, some were old friends. Each name brought in many memories – some worth cherishing, some forgettable. I gestured faster and the contacts scrolled down at a higher rate. I was barely noticing the contact names now, I just kept on flicking my finger. It went on and on, never seeming to end.

Soon, my thumb started paining from repeated exertion. I pressed my finger obliquely on the screen and the scrolling stopped. I lazily scanned the names of the 7 odd people who populated the display. There, I saw an image which took my breath away.

It was her.

The contact image showed a tall girl wearing a pink dress, sitting by a rock. It was a different image of the same girl which haunted me, 7 years ago. I used to be mad about her. I must have written umpteen letters to her, but ended up destroying all of them. Worse, I never had the guts to speak to her, despite having got the opportunity to see her every other day. Fate split us into separate ways and I never thought I’d get to see her again. I vaguely remember sending her a friend request, but had forgotten all about it. Apparently, she had accepted my friendship.

I was on cloud 9!

Eagerly, I pressed my thumb on her photo just to have a closer look at that face which used to haunt my dreams. I had the surprise of my life when her contact details became available.

She had listed her phone number in FB!!

Memories started trickling in… I clearly remembered requesting, nay, begging our mutual friends for her number. I never got yes for an answer. Now there it was, right in my mobile, saved in my phone’s contacts. I made a mental note to thank Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s dubious privacy settings, (which made her phone number public, albeit unknowingly).

Wasting no more time, I dialled her number!

It was 4.23 AM, and she’d probably be snoring off. Not that I cared. Something told me that she’d pick up. Within ten seconds after dialling, the phone started ringing. My heart beat seemed to be in sync with the soft whirring ringback tone. If she picked up, would she get to hear my heartbeat, I wondered. As each second passed, I waited with bated breath for the sound which, for me, was sweeter than M.S. Subbulakshmi’s mellifluous cadence…

The phone rang, and rang, and rang. Exactly 47 seconds later, the whirring sound stopped. A clipped voice announced in Tamil something which was self explanatory, the customer I was trying to reach wasn’t answering.

My heart sank. I should’ve known better. Nobody but me would be awake at this time, on a Monday morning. She’s to go to work and probably her shift starts at 11, a useful piece of info shared by my friend who used to be her co-worker.

Dejected, I pushed my phone away and closed my eyes. I suddenly felt tired, my eyes felt heavy. Morpheus seemed pleased with my giant leap of faith and blessed me finally. Within ten minutes, I was fast asleep.

I woke up to the sound of the famous Sony Ericsson jingle. I drowsily fished for my phone, unlocked it and placed it by my ear.

“Hari?” an unusually-sweet female voice queried.
“Yes?” I replied, still half asleep.
“I felt so happy to see your call.”
“Uh. Huh,” I was still groggy. Part of my mind was trying to place the voice while part of me was coaxing me to get back to sleep.
“In fact, in fact, I have been
expecting this call for over seven years. ”
That sentence jolted me back to reality.
“Only if you’d called me a month back…”
My heart skipped a beat. Shaking off my sleep, I quickly asked:
“Who is this?”
“I’m sorry, I should’ve told you about it before…


“Hello?”

Bloody hell. My phone got switched off! But I didn’t need any more guesses to know that it was her. I quickly fetched the charger from my bag, and somehow managed to switch the phone on. What was she saying? Why did she say that I should have called her earlier?  I called her back. To make things worse, her phone too was switched off…

What was all that? Was it a dream? No the call was real. It was from her number alright; at least the number that FB said was hers. I tried calling that number all day. I even sent her a few texts, to no avail. Her phone remained switched off. I couldn’t focus on anything that day. What was she trying to convey to me?

Later that day, I logged into FB and checked her profile. The familiar pink clad display pic greeted me with a smile. My heart melted at that smile. I took a closer look at her photos. She wasn’t as pretty as she was, back then. But still she was beautiful, even ravishing. I scrolled down to see more of her photos. Suddenly, my heart stopped.

She was sitting along with a guy on a stage. She looked really pretty, and happy too. The guy was also beaming.

Her engagement photos.

I quietly clicked the back button and opened her timeline. “Good to see that you’re getting hitched. Congrats. Really happy for you both!”, I posted.

A blatant lie.

I slept soundly that night.

P.S. Based on a true story, reported live.

5 Comments

  1. Abhi

    Aareda aa paarapurathe sundari? Nalla thep aayi poyi, all I can say is been there done that and now after my engagement I can say I've been on the other end of the fonecall as well 🙂

    Good to see u back in action 😉

    1. Hari

      Athoru valiya kathayaa chetta… Will tell you the next time we meet. 🙂 And good that you've finally graduated from that stage, being at the receiving end for long. Happy for you. 😀

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