It was November 14, 2016, 11:19 pm. I can actually remember the date as it was Children’s Day.
I received a text message, which was actually a query- “Anyone there?”
“Yes, Rohan this side.”- I replied.
“You write so well, keep writing.” she wrote.
“Thank you for appreciating my work.” I replied.
“May I know your basic info? Like where are you from, what is your age, and what do you do apart from writing?”
“I am from Delhi, 21 years old, and apart from writing, I am a final year computer science engineering student.”
Sharing personal information was never one-sided, when you tell something about yourself to someone, you expect him/her to share their information with you too.
Following normal human behavior protocol, I asked her the same question- “What about you?”
“Will it be safe to share my personal info with you?” She replied.
This was the first time, and she was the first one to ask such an unexpected question to me. I mean, no one usually thinks that even a writer followed by a considerable amount of people, was at the end of the day, a man after all, and could be a threat to their privacy. I got to thinking how could I convince her that it was safe for her to share her information with me.
It took me a couple of minutes to reply, and all I could write was “Feel safe to do so, but it is up to you whether you want to share your information or not. Either case is okay with me.”
“This is Mahi, I am from Bangalore, and like you, I am also a computer science final year engineering student.” she replied.
She- “Done with placement?”, Me- “What about placement?” We sent the same question at the same time, a great coincidence.
“Yes, I am placed at xyz company as a ‘Network System Administrator’ ” I replied.
“I too am placed at abc company as a ‘Assistant Software Engineer’ ” Mahi replied.
“Congrats.” different text, same coincidence.
“I guess, by now we have had ample conversation from which you can decide whether it’s safe to converse with me or not.” I replied.
“Why this sudden thought in the middle of our conversation?” Mahi inquired.
“Just your words regarding safety flashed across my mind. So, what do you think now?”
“I am sorry, don’t get me wrong, I have never actually spoken to any stranger yet, and I never will. You were the first stranger I texted. So I just asked you if it was safe or not. ” Mahi replied.
After few minutes of conversation, “You must have spoken to so many fans like me?” she asked.
“I just respond to their queries and sometimes acknowledge their appreciation.” I replied.
And the moment I said this, I knew I was trapped. I began to expect a question from her.
“Then why are you texting me?” Mahi questioned as expected.
“I am texting you for two reasons. The first is you enquired if it would be safe to share your personal information with me. You are the first person to ask me this question, proving you do not go with the flow. And the second reason is that we are in the same branch as well as the same year of engineering.” I replied.
“Nice to hear such deep words with such an accurate observation. Or should I say #WritersMind.” Mahi replied. After a few minutes I got another text- “Hey, I was not doubting you, don’t take me in a wrong way.”
After conversing for 15 minutes, I questioned her- “Why are you texting me?”
“How beautifully strange it is, two different people from two different states, with different opinions and perspectives, with some similarities, having such a great conversation. Maybe the strangeness of it all helps me text you, that too very comfortably.”
Meanwhile, I sent her- “Aren’t you afraid of dark circles?”
“Why this question?” Mahi replied.
“It’s around 2:30 am and you are still awake, being a girl aren’t you afraid of dark circles?” I asked her.
Her reply- “I haven’t slept for the last 95 days”, and then, “Oh! I wasn’t supposed to tell you about it, I am sorry, I just got carried away. I guess you should sleep now.”
“And why haven’t you slept in 95 days? ” I inquired.
“I am suffering from insomnia, I can’t sleep.” she wrote back.
“And what’s the reason behind your insomnia?”
“I have already told you many things about me and I don’t want our first chat to go like this, with only me discussing my problems with you. No, let it be. And I am the one who is suffering from insomnia, not you. So I guess you should sleep now 😀 😀 :D”
As a stranger, I couldn’t force her to tell me her problems. So I let it rest.
Instead I wrote- “Actually, it’s my birthday today”
Mahi wished me- “A very happy birthday to you Rohan! God bless you!!!”
“Thank you Mahi.”
“Enjoy the day Rohan, have a great day full of surprises.”
A few texts later, she sent- “It’s your birthday and you are wasting your precious time here.”
“Well, I want a gift from you,” I sent back.
“Ahem ahem, gift? What do you want? Tell me if I can afford it” Mahi asked.
“Trust me, it’s affordable”, I replied.
“If it’s affordable I will gift it to you for sure.”
“Okay, I want you to forget about your insomnia and sleep for the next 21 days” I replied.
“Hey this is not fair!”, Mahi exclaimed.
“But it’s affordable!” I protested.
I know it wasn’t easy for her, but she agreed.
“Okay, for the first time I will try my best to fulfill the strange wish of a stranger!” Mahi sent me.
“Okay! So your time starts now, go and sleep” I replied.
And with a “good night and happy birthday once again” text followed by a “thanks once again” reply, it was the end of the first conversation between me and Mahi.
And after 21 days …..
“Why did you ask me to sleep for 21 days? Why not 20 or 23 or any other number of days?” Mahi questioned me.
“Research shows that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. When starting or breaking any habit we tend to tell our conscious mind that we are going to change, and it stays for life. If you tell your mind that you want to try something for 21 days, trust me it won’t be so unwilling to co-operate. This might sound a little strange, but trust me it works.” I wrote back.
“Yes, it worked. Thank you. If you don’t mind, can I ask you a question?” Mahi wrote.
“Sure,” I replied.
“Why did you show this much sympathy for a stranger ?” Mahi inquired.
“Insomnia is a habit that takes a lot out of you, and struggling with insomnia is never easy, which is why I tried to take you out of it,” I sent.
“How can you be so sure about insomnia ?” Mahi asked me.
“To be honest, I am suffering from insomnia for the last 2 years. I am pretty sure you must be thinking ‘what about that 21-day fact that he told me?’ Well, I tried it too but it didn’t work for me.” I sent back.
“Oh that’s strange.” Mahi replied.
My next text was- “Well, there is one more thing. November 15 is not my birth date. I lied that night, and thanks for the lovely gift.”