“Write down the story of what happened to us,” he said, his last words to me, the last time we spoke, the last time I saw those long camel eye-lashes brush his spectacles every time he blinked, the last time I saw his lips pursed and curve to the right because he was trying to stifle tears. “So when nothing is left, but bones and scraps of withered paper, someone will know where we went.”
H e said to begin this way :
We went together to a place so far away, that there was nowhere further to go.
The first time I saw him he was leaning against a crumbling brick wall, mossy with the monsoon, ragged dirty jeans, a faded holey t shirt, dishevelled hair, smoking like he couldn’t breathe if not nicotine fumes. He caught my look of disapproval and defiantly blew the smoke into my face. I was standing there watching him with my mother, and we unanimously agreed that he was exactly the kind of guy I should never associate with.
We met on the editorial board of a magazine. But the magazine shut down after a couple of issues. We would chat online sometimes, maybe once in a couple of months. I would call him up a few times during the year with e-troubles. (I am very technologically challenged and my e-troubles would consist know how on how to block pornographic pop-up ads. The importance of acquiring this skill while living with one’s grandparents is not to be underestimated.)
If anyone is to be credited for this love story it has to be Bill Gates, and/or his OS developers . No, we did not hook up virtually in Half-Life 2; it was more pathetic than that. Microsoft launched Windows XP and you got 8 points for unpopularity on a 5 point scale for still using Windows ’98, so called my BITSian Bachelors in Computer Application acquaintance to install XP on my PC (a pirated version, of course! Who can afford original OSes in high-school? Only the children of OS developers, I guess.) And so he arrived at my apartment one stuffy, scorching Kolkata summer afternoon with Windows XP burnt onto a blank CD.
Three months later this CD was framed against an indigo blue background and hung on beige bedroom walls. Three years later this once revered trophy was flung into a public garbage can on Park Street with tear smudged hands.
(The fairy tale will continue…)