Now that I have posted short stories on this blog, I'm making a serious effort to write good stories. This one below will be the last of my mediocre stories....cheers!
The wall clock showed 2 : 15 A. M. The computer said it was only 2: 00 A.M. Either way, it was way too late for any normal 16 year old to be online.
Yet, Alex was seated in front of his laptop, sipping a cup of coffee, as he waited for a reply in his MSN Messenger.
He was chatting with a girl, about 3000 miles away from where he sat. Presently, she was hesitant, not sure she should be trusting a stranger whom she met just two weeks ago, that too, under strange circumstances. But when the time is so late, and your chatting with someone like Alex, even the most cautious of girls are caught off guard.
Within a few minutes, the girl began pouring out her heart to Alex. She told him every deep secret she had hid even from her best buddies. All Alex had to do, was coax her to carry on, and silently read all that she had to say.
About an hour later, he finally ended the chat. The girl said she was happy to have a friend like him.
Too bad she thought she was chatting with a girl from Toronto named Emily. Well, what?s in a name, thought Alex smugly.
* * * * * * *
Not many knew what Alex did after he went home from school. He had no friends to speak of, and was hardly ever spotted outside his house. Some knew he was addicted to chatting. No one knew just how he went about chatting?
Both of his parents worked very long hours, which meant there was hardly anything stopping Alex from sitting on the laptop all the time. Chatting, which had started out as a hobby, had turned into an obsession, until finally, it became a way of living for Alex.
Offline, he was a loser. A nobody who had nothing interesting to speak, nothing interesting to do, nothing interesting to show. But once he went online, he became someone else. And there was a reason for that?.
Alex realized very early on, that his online identity was not restricted to his offline personality. While he was not so good looking, possessing above average intelligence, with a huge deficit of self esteem, online, he was charming, handsome, loving, intelligent?
Soon, Alex began making fake identities. He was either a professor from Chicago, or a drug addict from Bangladesh, or an aspiring cricketer from Pakistan. It was easy. All he had to do was lie. And he was pretty good at that?
* * * * * * *
One day, everything changed for Alex. He was standing in his bus stop, waiting for his bus to arrive, when he saw a girl standing next to him. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Graceful, charming, with a dazzling smile. He couldn?t stop looking at her?
He saw her for the next one month ; he saw her smile ; he saw her push back her silky brown hair. And slowly, he realized he had a crush on her.
Then, something happened which brought a U turn to Alex?s life. One evening, when he was busy chatting with a girl from Bahrain (he was in Dubai), he received a friend request. It was from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The name was familiar. He accepted the request.
?Who are you?? he asked.
?You don?t know? I?m Shalini. I?ve seen you in the bus stop for so long!?
Alex?s heart leapt. He now knew where he had heard the name before. Shalini Mehta. The girl he couldn?t stop thinking about. Without wasting a moment, Alex began chatting?
* * * * * * *
If Alex had a lot of friends, they would surely have commented on how much Alex had changed as a person. He stopped spending most of his time online. More importantly, he stopped fooling people online. For some reason, he no longer got the pleasure from breaking innocent girls hearts. Besides, the only person he wanted to chat with, was Shalini.
She would come online every day, and chat with Alex for hours together. They would share their stories, tell each other their tastes and likings. This went on for two months, and Alex began feeling something he had never felt before.
He no longer had a crush on Shalini. He was past that stage. Now, he felt something else. Love?
Any one who knew Alex well would have understood his condition. He had spent most of his time without a friend. His days were like boring soap operas, where his only hope was that school would finish quickly. And once it did, he would quickly log online. From then onwards, till the end of the day, Alex spent his time duping people. Lying. Cheating. In between all of this, he had lost his own identity. He forgot who he really was.
Alex spent so much time lying about his upbringing and likings, that he was amazed when he chatted with Shalini. For the first time ever, he didn?t have to think on his feet. He no longer needed to lie. All he had to do?.was be himself.
?You know,? he typed, ?there is something that I have to tell you??
?What is it?? Shalini typed back.
It was late at night, and Alex was sure he wasn?t thinking straight. For some odd reason, he felt like confessing to Shalini about his deep secret. He wanted to tell her about his dirty habit of fooling people. It would make him feel better. It would make him feel as though he had redeemed himself.
?Listen, I need to go now,? Shalini said.
?Oh?okay. Bye then.?
* * * * * * *
The next day, Alex woke up with a firm thought. Today, for the first time ever, he would talk to Shalini face to face. For the past five months, he had only chatted with her, since he was too afraid to speak to her in person. But now, his fear vapourised. After all, if there was one person on earth who knew Alex properly, it was Shalini.
He waited for her in the bus stop, and the moment she arrived, he walked up to her.
?Hey, Shalini, listen, about what I wanted to tell you yesterday??
?Excuse me? Do I know you?? she asked, looking bewildered.
Alex felt surprised. He knew Shalini was a little playful. But asking such a question in a bus stop, when there were adults around, would put him in a tricky position. He decided to get serious.
?Quit playing, Shalini. Now, I want to confess something to you. Or else I wont be able to be friends with you anymore.?
?Hey, listen, I don?t even know you. Why the hell are you talking to me like this??
Alex was stunned. ?But we just chatted last night-?
?Chatted? Chatted where? I don?t even have an email id. How the hell could I have chatted with you??
* * * * * * *
Alex stared at his Messenger Contact List. The email address email@example.com was no longer there.
He had confronted the person, whoever he or she was. Asked if she was Shalini. The truth was bitter.
Alex had always wondered how his ?victims? ? the endless list of online friends ? would have felt when they realized they were duped. Now he knew?
He had loved one girl. Chatted with her for 5 months. Poured out his heart to her. Only to realize that he was cheated by an online identity.