It is 4.30 in the morning. By now a man with clean habits should be waking up to take on the new day. But I prefer to see the new day in before going to sleep. That way, I have an upper hand. It is so much better to catch the sun in its nappies than let its rays catch you in your underwear.
By the time I finish writing to you, the sky outside my window would just be beginning to light up. I had to write to you tonight because I want to tell you a few things -- things that have been weighing heavily on my mind of late. We have been talking, off and on, almost the entire day, over phone and internet, but somehow it didn't occur to me to tell you things that I am going to say now. Right now there is calm, and I can think.
You live in Bombay, I live in Chennai. How I wish we lived in the same city, preferably in Bombay. There, we could meet every evening for an hour, just to catch up. We could sit at a spot on Marine Drive, watching the sun dip right in front of us. Or maybe some place in Bandra. Just like Amol Palekar and Tina Munim in Baaton Baaton Main. How I wish I could fly back to that era, don't you?
In that hour we spend together, we could talk; or maybe not talk but just hold hands and watch what's going around us. It is your physical presence that would matter. Being with you would be a relief, a respite, a revival. I would go back home recharged, with fresh hope -- if not anything else, the hope to see you again the next evening at the same spot.
You have no idea how much I crave for your physical presence. In the two years that I have known you, how little have we actually met and had a chat: maybe four or five times? That's about it! Yet we have a minute-by-minute account of what is going on in each other's lives because we are connected 24/7. I see you online most of the day, and you have a fair idea what my day is like. Vice-versa too. When we are not online, we are just a text message or a phone call away. In fact, we are so used to seeing each other online that the moment one of us goes offline for longer than usual, the other gets worried. Remember the other day when I called you at two in the morning, just because you had been missing all day? And how two days ago, when I was attending a friend's wedding anniversary party and the battery of my phone had died, I received a bunch of panicky messages once I got home and put the phone on charge?
That makes me wonder about our relationship: What are we? Who are we? Mere online entities, online friends, who recognise each other by Gmail IDs or the names fed into the mobile phones? Even when it comes to having sex, we get naughty on the chat window and feel gratified. What happens to the flesh? What happens to the touch? What's the point in going to the gym and looking look when the person who you desire and want to be desired by is merely an online entity?
It's not just about sex, M. When did you last catch up with a friend and had a good time? Not in a long, long time, I am sure. Same with me: I can't recall when was the last time I met up with a friend without a specific purpose. Because for non-specific purposes, you can always go online or pick up the phone. The personal touch is dead, and that's what I miss. Really, I don't want friends who have an hour-by-hour account of what my day is like. I crave for friends with who I can spend an hour with, face to face, and feel like a normal human being rather than an online entity.
To tell you the truth, M, the thought that you are available to me 24/7 is somewhat putting off. You shouldn't be so readily available, because it affects your desirability. Availability and desirability do not go hand in hand. So log off and show me your real self. Just imagine going back to the days of Baaton Baaton Main.
The biggest culprit, I tell you, is the mobile phone. It weighs only a few grams, but it makes you carry the weight of several human beings who are attached to your life. Even worse is the internet, which weighs nothing but upon which relationships weighing tons are built. But what are relationships without the personal touch?
Shall we throw our mobile phones into the sea and log out of internet? Amol Palekar and Tina Munim lived happily ever after in Baaton Baaton Main even without present-day gadgets. Maybe if they had internet connnection back then, the film would have been titled Raaton Raaton Main.