CHATTING UP A STORM
The biological clock was ticking away. You could say she almost eagerly waited for it to signal.
Yes, the signal went off, on the dot. 4.00 pm as always. Time to get up and have tea and snacks.
However her laptop signalled a new email.
Happy Birthday, Have a nice one.
Not from someone she knew.
Thank you for the wishes but I am not sure that I know you.
He invited her on G talk and she accepted, on a wild impulse. She was feeling very adventurous. Part of the reason could be the fact that she had turned 35. She had five more years to do the forty things that you are supposed to do before you turn forty.
You may not know me but I know you very well. Through your blog.
Oh that, it throws up a lot on random searches, especially articles on child rearing.
Oh yes, I found your diaper article.
Was it useful for you?
No. I stopped using them since a long while ago.
Ha ha. Very funny. How many kids do you have?
One boy. 5 years. Little devil. Keeps me dancing to his tunes.
Endearing Dad. Cute
So why did you pick me up and mail me. Of all random people? Who ARE you?
Pure chance. I am no one. Without an address.
Fascinating. Tell me more.
Sarcastic, aren’t we?
She really needed to take that break. Rush to the loo. But the conversation was captivating her.
Look, I don’t make it a habit of talking to strangers. Tell me who you are and why are you contacting me.
Let us say our paths crossed in the past. In a different time frame. We were not what we are today.
Tell me WHO. No riddles.
She really had to go
Go on guess.
In a minute. Don’t go away.
She ran to the ladies room, finished her business in record time without making a scene of herself and almost ran back to her desk, to talk to that unknown and she hoped, attractive stranger.
He was gone. Signed off. Only she and her curiosity remained.
She racked her brains. It could be anyone. From her vast repertoire of acquaintances, most of them were linked up with her via FB or if not at least following her blog.
In the evening she compulsively checked her G talk just in case he had materialised.
She found an article waiting for her in her inbox next morning. There was a huge article on politics, education system, rising prices which meant nothing to her. Why would he send her an article of all things?
Did you read it?
As if I am sitting free and would do that the first thing in the morning.
Sorry! Sorry I disconnected abruptly. The wife came.
Are you busy or pretending to be busy?
She disconnected in a huff. She was in no mood to chat with some unknown moron. And the fact that he had a wife rankled. Illogical but she felt it was not a good thing if he has to disconnect if the wife came in, yet she felt strangely irritated at that unknown wife.
Sorry. No offence. I will not disturb you.
I just need to finish my work I am leaving home early. My husband is bringing home some firang visitors.
Bad idea. Unsolicited advice but don’t mix business with personal space. Don’t call them home.
None of your business may I say?
She disconnected and signed out. Some guts that guy has.
She asked her husband about the list of invitees.
“Just 3 foreigners. They want Indian food.”
“Is it a good idea calling them home? It is our home after all. Why call business associates”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“No, no, nothing. It is ok.”
During the weekends she never logged on to g mail. She did, this Saturday. Just for a sneak peak.
There was an offline message.
Where are you?
God! This guy is horrible. How dare he question me?
On Sunday she again logged on out of curiosity mixed with anticipation. Another off line message was waiting for her.
I am actually missing you. Log in please.
She turned red. Her heart began to beat fast. And a thrill ran through her body. But she wouldn’t dare reply. Not from her home. Not when her husband was around. This obsession coming from some unknown quarters was exhilarating.
Monday she logged in with great anticipation. G talk popped up.
How was your weekend? How did the party go?
It was good. I got slightly drunk. We put on some music and danced a bit. Not something I can blog about so don’t expect to read the gory details.
It was sometimes good to pretend. It somehow seemed important to convey that she was cool and had fun in her life.
Careful. I told you not to get too involved in people from the office. That too the husband’s office. It is your life but I still feel I should tell you this.
Why not? It was some harmless fun. Plus my husband is the one who planned it.
Exhibitionism. Trying to exhibit the wife, home. I hate such men.
Excuse me. Stay within your limits. You are being offensive.
Sorry. But I am a straightforward and simple man. I speak what I want. Let’s change the topic.
No. I cannot continue without knowing who you are.
Aarrgh, Back to square 1. Let us not discuss that.
Then let’s just cut it. I don’t want to continue like this.
I am just chatting with you. I am not asking you to have an affair with me.
As if I would.
You wouldn't? Why not? You are 35. You have been married for a while. You never had an adventure. You never did anything wild. If you do not do it now, you never will.
I am planning to buy property in your city. Would you have any recommendations?
Suburbs would be a good idea. What is your budget?
30 lakhs. Would that be enough?
No. You need at least 80
Just kidding. I am financially very secure. I can afford more. May be a villa. You must try buying some tea estates. I could help you.
Sure will check with the husband.
What does your husband do?
Why? Is he in the secret service? Why are you being so effing paranoid?
Language. Until you tell me about yourself nothing from me.
Well, I ran away from home when I was 23. My girlfriend had left me. My brother was doing better in college than me and I had failed my college.
I worked as a watchman in an IT company. Developed some programs during off duty hours. Impressed the CTO and here I am.
That evening she asked her husband if they could buy some land in a hill station. Her husband was not so enthusiastic about the idea. She said that she had contacts who could help her. A chat friend who is ready to give leads. Her husband was not very enthusiastic about her chatting with random strangers.
“What harm is it doing to me?” She asked. ‘It is not affecting our lives in any way.”
“Your wish, but be wary of anything that talks to you but does not have a face or name to the font.”
“You are paranoid. You are being a woman. Just relax.”
Tell me about yourself. Where do you work?
Sorry, not within the allowed stuff that I share with strangers. Especially when you know who I am because you say we have met in the past.
Where do your kids study?
Sorry. Out of bounds.
Well, mine goes to a boarding school.
How could you send your child to a boarding school?
It is a character building experience. You should do that.
No. I can’t send my jigar ka tukdas away.
You are being selfish. It will be good for them. Look at Rajiv Gandhi. And a few other great people who studied in Doon School. They had great network. It will be good for the future.
On an impulse she searched the net. Boarding schools in India. She read some articles on boarding schools. She called her husband.
“I have sent you some links. They are on boarding schools. I am thinking of sending the kids there.”
‘You are mad.”
He cut her call.
She called again.
“No discussion. I don’t see a need to send the kids to boarding school. Whatever happened to giving a safe and secure home to the kids. Our constant love and affection. What about our being available for them.”
“It will build their network.”
“Let them do it in this school itself.”
By the way, I am planning a holiday. To the city where we met. Wife and me. Not you and me! It is always rejuvenating to take a break with family.
Which city? You and I. Not your wife and you.
Clever! I am not telling. But you will discover the truth in a few days’ time.
Good for you and the family. I hardly get to go to holidays. Our time zones do not match. My husband and mine, that is. Not yours and mine.
A lifetime ago it matched.
Say it now. Please. Where and when did we meet?
She was shaking. The words were familiar. Her body remembered. Her body reacted to it before her mind could. But she didn’t want to articulate it aloud. She didn’t want to guess.
C’mon. I have told you enough.
She came down to earth with a thud. What was she about to do? She felt sullied and dirty.
“Shall we do that long overdue Shimla trip?”
“I don’t think we can do it this year. Next year I promise.”
“I knew the answer. I am sorry that I asked. You never spend time with your family. I am not important. Do you realise that I could be lonely.”
“I don’t know who is misguiding you but don’t think even for a second that I don’t love you. You are my life. My family is all that I have. Don’t poison our lives.”
He pulled her close and hugged her tight.
She quickly logged in and removed him from her chat list. Cold turkey.
Who was he? She would never know for sure. But she knew that he had the power to alter her way of thinking. To affect her day, her routine, her relation with her husband. She began to speak his language, use his words, thoughts and ideas. She could not pin point but the interactions reminded her of some forgotten days. A deja vu of sorts. But she was reluctant to explore that line of thought deeper down for fear of uncovering her innermost secrets. She was afraid that she would give in to her intense need of conversing with that unknown stranger. Yet again. He was a temptation that needed to be nipped in the budding stage itself.