March 16, 2002

For Wackkky

First of all let me say thanks to this wonderful woman, Wackkky, whom I know only by her chat handle, for caring enough to keep a very little promise that she had made to me a long time back. The odds of her stumbling on this thanks is almost as good as zero, still no matter how small it was, it is a gesture that means a lot to me. So thanks again.

I ran into her on one of those wild days when I was spending extraordinarily long hours at work and had taken to chat as a way to keep my sanity intact. She was not even a novice on chat, just a curious passerby who had lots on her hands already. Her lack of chat etiquette made for an interesting start and as the nightly conversations started becoming a regular feature, I discovered the same madness in her that often secludes me in a remote unreachable corner even at times when I am with the best of my friends.

I know scant little about her. All I knew was that she worked for some kind of an NGO jet setting between cities on weekends lugging along her laptop from Raipur to Rome, was based in the same city as I am and she loved all the places I love here. I do not know her name or where she exactly she stays or what exactly she does for a living. In fact I do not even have her e-mail id nor do I have her on the MSN or Yahoo messengers. The only common thread was the madness, the same fascination for the places that we have both been to and the power of dreams.

I loved talking away to glory and so did she. We yapped nights away about our favourite joints in JNU, talked like little children about the simple beauty of starry nights, recollected the same mushy old songs that we liked, all the wild places which I dream about where she has been to countless times. And we also fought royally over things as weird as to how contemporary economics was a pure waste of time [for the record: she was against that line of thought]. We were two hopeless romantics out of sync with time and space, caught in stream of red coloured letters dealing in dreams, some that had bloomed others that had gone sour, on an unsigned Java applet window.

It all came to an end sometime in late September 2001. She just disappeared. In the process, she violated the only deal that we had. It was not a promise to reveal who she was or even meet for real, even though being in the same city we might have passed each other a thousand times and still not recognised [life is strange indeed!] each other. The deal was that eventually when we got bored of each other or get caught up in something else that would not leave either of us enough time to talk like we used to, we would say a proper goodbye before disappearing. What happened was precisely the opposite of that.

Having been on the chat scene for long enough I know that these things hardly matter. It is a make believe world, you can be anyone from the ghost of Indira Gandhi to JFK reborn so long as you can talk smart and talk fast. Anyone can look up a map of Paris, read about it in Expedia and fib about it on a grand scale and of course there is nothing that Google cannot tell you about. But somehow I always held it that she was not one of those kinds.

Since then I have almost become totally de-addicted of chat. I hardly ever go in there other than for old time's sake. But every time I have done so there has always been this nagging thought of what became of her. There was always this half expectation that she would pop up one day and say "Sorry that I disappeared like that".

Yes, I was worried a bit, it was so unlike her to not keep a promise and disappear like that. But then it could also have been a grand dream that I had. No one else knew her, I had no other contact with her. The fickle promise of a final goodbye to a total stranger does nott carry much accountability with it, right?

In the past few months I had almost completely given up on her. After all how long can one hold on to frail memories red coloured words and sentences? Infrequent was an understatement as far my chat visits were concerned and gradually I filed her memory under some vague category labelled as "Unresolved", with lots of other trinkets I had collected over the years.

A few days back I was having a lean day and was in no condition to blog or read [my two favourite activities now]. So I decided to take a peek in the old chatroom. The Java client took a while to fire up and in the regular room there was just one or two familiar faces. The usual hi, hello deal ensued.

Suddenly, someone with a nick I have never seen before private messages me asking if I was the same person who used to talk to someone called Wackkky. At that moment I almost had tears in my eyes for someone kept a simple promise, one that means precious little to the world, but a whole lot to me. More importantly, she did not let down the trust I had in her. You can call me mad for expecting so much from a stranger, but then that is what I am.

As it transpired, the person who messaged me was a real world friend of her's, whom she had entrusted to dig me out and let me know what happened to her. As I was off chat by then he had spent a good 3 months looking like an idiot asking around every night if they knew someone by the nickname I held.

What had happened was that Wackkky lost her father, almost at the same time that I had talked to her last, and became a totally changed person. From him I got to know that she had lost most of her cheerfulness and her mad optimism, which was almost magical. Sometime later, she ran away to Rwanda where she was rediscovering herself among the starving children and the refugees, presumably with some NGO, I was told.

So, this is for you, the woman I knew as Wackkky. That goodbye meant a lot to me and wherever you are, I hope that you are at peace with yourself and happy at your heart.