Her fingers ran over the text message on her phone.” Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.
She had waited two months for a text to appear. Every morning as she woke, the first thing she did was look at the phone. She’s always had this habit since that fateful morning her mum had called about her dad. Not one to look at her phone incessantly or even bother to reply to texts, she had perhaps slept through the first two calls her mum had made to her that morning, thinking her mum was just calling in sheer nervousness. When she finally did answer her phone, it was just to let her know that she should get onto a flight right now because the man who was her idol was now lying lifeless, far away in a hospital in Calcutta. And that was the last time she ever ignored her phone.
Her mum now lived alone in that house she had never known to be hers and while it was morbid and fatalistic, she knew that her phone was the only way she would know if anything horrible happened. Her friends laughed at her, he cited “expectations of communication” as one of the reasons but nobody knew the real reason she held onto her phone for dear life all the time.
She had met him “on the phone”. Twenty years after her relationship, the only one she had ever known and believed in, fell apart one sultry evening in July, her friends had insisted she get onto one of these dating apps that had become quite popular in the circuit.
“You are always on the phone” was what he had told her that evening while she stood in front of him trying to fathom why he had gone running into the arms of another woman seeking emotional comfort while she, his wife, didn’t know there was a world that existed outside him. It was ironic that he said this to her, straight-faced and absolutely unapologetic, considering he had spent apparently many an hour on the phone with this emotional anchor he had found. She looked away for a minute, gathered her nerves and asked him to find a house at the earliest and leave. She loved him for everything he was and everything he had given to her to make her who she was today. She had known him from the time she was 16 and today 20 years later even as she asked him to leave, she knew the love she had for him would never go. But this was the end. She would wish him well. It wasn’t her style, or so she thought, to hang onto something that clearly didn’t belong to her anymore.
He had this smile that reached from the corner of his mouth to his eyes. Wearing a blue tee, against a wide expanse of green, he looked down at her, smiling. She let it go, once, twice, thrice. But the fourth time she gave in. There was no harm. He seemed simple and nice and there was some sense of warmth that came right through the screen. Would he swipe right too, she thought as her thumb made its way across the screen. She was new to this, not knowing what to expect. Friends had all kinds of stories- good ones, creepy ones and hilarious ones. She didn’t know if she was ready. What was she looking for anyway?
It seemed to be a “match”. She looked at her phone nervously and wondered if she should say hi. There was enough hogwash about men making the first move and women seeming too desperate if they did. She never believed in that rubbish but all she could muster was a lame “hi”, not knowing whether he would even reply. 48 hours had passed and she gave up, thinking that it was perhaps her fat face or her love for beers she didn’t hide that made him stay away. No man would want to be with her. Heck, the man she thought would, had left her after 20 years. Why would someone else even bother. And as she lay there thinking of everything that could have gone through his head, her screen lit up. There he was, a very non-descript simple “hi” acknowledging hers.
It was all uphill from there. They messaged each other, every single day, eight months straight. It didn’t matter that they were two countries apart with different time zones. He often laughed at her response time, almost immediately to any text, whether he lovingly complained about her laughter keeping him awake at night or telling her about the clear blue sky in Sydney and quoting a line from his favourite music, just to add that extra bit of warmth. He disappeared at times, days on end, making her sick with worry. And then he came back, every time, telling her he was caught up, he was ill, he was sorry. And that one text made all the difference. The anger that used to well up and blur her eyes with tears would melt that very moment and stream down her cheeks with relief, knowing he was well and safe, not realising she was going down the rabbit hole, falling desperately in love with a man she had never met.
Her friends told her to “speak” to him. ” Have a real phone conversation with him, go beyond text”, they told her. She knew they were right. She often asked him too but every time he put it off, she never brought it up, quite content with him just being there. They spoke about so many things, most of it being music. He promised to play for her, she promised to cook for him. He sent her music and many a selfie, looking goofy and flashing that smile that made her weak in the knees. She went to bed smiling, reliving the texts she sent him through the day, each day. Months passed. She spoke, he heard. He laughed, she loved. And it was bang in the middle of one of these very simple Sunday afternoon lazy conversations that he disappeared. ” I think we shouldn’t talk. Your communication expectations are different from mine”, it read. She looked at the text, horrified and furiously punched away at her phone, explaining what she meant, asking him to calm down and listen to her. Many texts followed in the next two months. All, every single one of them, hers. Angry ones, pleading ones, lonely ones, loving ones. All emerging from a space of deep love, none tinged with even the slightest bit of regret.
“Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.
She looked at the message, once, twice and many times over. Trying to make sense of it, she couldnt look at the words. They seemed to disappear under the blobs of tears that had now clouded her eyes, her brains and that part of the soul she was ready to share. This was what a breakup was like in the world of adult romance. Mature, crisp and apparently “fun”.
She relived that morning all over again. Putting together the end of her story, she decided it was time. He knew she wrote. He knew where to find her writing. Picking up her phone she scrolled down to his name. It would again be a text, from her to him. But it had to be done. He was loved. And he deserved to know it.