Love Through a Keyboard

Hey. How was your day? I type swiftly into the message box. He replies quickly. He had a boring day. He couldn’t complete his project yet. He missed me, he tells me. My tired face is lit with a smile. I tell him how I dozed off in class and my teacher caught me, and how embarrassed that made me feel. He makes laughing smileys. I hear my mom scolding me as she tells me to sleep. “You come from school and you immediately sit at your desktop, take some rest.” I brush her off but I feel the tiredness coursing through my body. I was up all night talking to him and could only sleep for a few hours until it was already time for school. But I didn’t care. I kept typing and waiting for his replies. We talk for hours as dusk falls and the stillness of the night envelops us and the streaks of dawn paint the sky in an orange hue. The distance crumbles through the night as we share every thought, and yet it holds taut and sharp, jutting painfully as it separates us in reality.


Time and again I question this part of my life. Of sitting in front of a plastic screen and staring at a blinking line as I wait for his replies. As I share every moment of my meaningless day with him and gobble down the stories he tells me. I visualize what would happen if we really meet. Would he really hug me as tight as he always promises to? Would he be shy with nervous excitement or talkative with giddy happiness? What would my reaction be? I imagine that I would be ecstatic at the fruition of this dream. I would be so happy that for the first few hours I would drink in the sight of him, touch him to ensure that he is for real. I would hold his hand tightly because it was what I had wanted for all these days, weeks, months.

When my friends would ask me about my relationship and I would tell them, they would give me weird and judgmental looks. It somehow seemed to people that a connection cannot be made over hundreds of miles through computer screens. That only when two people were in each other’s physical presence, they could love each other. The questions made me feel insecure and it reflected in our relationship, when the frustration of never having seen each other in person would take over us. But I felt a connection over typed words, shared images, mutual interests and the most intimate conversations. I had never known a person so completely, I had never shared myself so completely. If that wasn’t real then what was?


I remember the day my parents went out of town and my best friend came over. I had fought with him for some reason and my friend intervened, trying to sort out our fight. As I sat there angrily, glaring at him over Skype, he apologized and knelt down, asking me officially to be his girlfriend. It is one of my favorite moments in the two years that we spent together. A few days later it was his birthday and I made him a sketch, of both of us together. It was wishful thinking, trying to envision on paper a reality I so desperately sought. We made it through one whole year together, visualizing scenarios of when we’d meet, bickering and arguing over little things, complaining about the people in our lives, our everyday failures and talking of our love for each other.


The distance took its toll finally. There appeared cracks in our dreamily crafted haven. Our paths, which were supposed to meet in a few months got separated even further. He moved to a different city to take up a job, leaving his hometown where I was heading to college, bereft of his presence. I didn’t see how this made a difference, but his new life drifted us apart, much further than I would have ever thought. And I experienced heartbreak for the first time in my life. It shattered me. I could barely function as I pleaded to him to try and work it out once more. In the midst of my board exams I sat in front of the same computer screen, watching endless shows so that I could keep him out of my mind. At last my resolution won over my heartbreak.


I did meet him after a year when I’d moved to college. But there wasn’t any magic, it had all vanished in my efforts to keep him out of my thoughts. However, through all those years, the one thing that I learned is that a virtual friendship is as real as one where you can hold each other physically. A conversation over Whatsapp is the same as one spoken through throaty whispers. A kiss blown over Skype is as precious as the shy peck on your cheek. These are lived experiences, they are happening, they are as true as the air you breathe, but are unable to see. Emotions are always real. Love can happen anywhere, in any way and denying the truth of those feelings just because you may have never met the person, it is denying yourself the chance to love. So, keep smiling at the plastic screens, for the only thing that matters, is your happiness.


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