He tapped on his laptop nervously as he signed into his email account. He was beginning to get worried. No reason to, perhaps. All he expected was a reply.
… Nope. There was none.
It had been a week. Seven days since any sign of activity. Online, that is. No tweets, no blogs, no updates, no mails, no offline messages. Nothing. She was not the most online person. Yet, there was usually something, from time to time.
This was unusual, though. In the time that he’d known her (a little over a year) she hadn’t been ‘offline’ for this long. Maybe she’s gone home; or a trip with friends, perhaps? Yea. That should be it.
Now was when he really wished he had asked her cell phone number. Not that he was a phone person. They were online friends. Just online friends. It never occurred to him that he might need her number. Nor did she volunteer. So it never came up.
He could probably ask one of her friends. But…whom? She had some 300 odd friends listed on Facebook. Who among them was she close to? There were a few who usually commented on her updates. Or what about her Twitter pals? Especially that guy who she has Twitter conversations with? But he’s not in the same city as her. Would he know? He knew she had a sister, six years elder to her. Nah. Contacting family…doesn’t feel quite right. How about her roommates? Atleast that’s what he thought a couple of her Facebook friends were.
And then it hit him. What did he know about her? The real person her? Her name? Which city she lived in? Where she worked? Sure. That apart?
They had been in touch over mails or chats. They had discussed several things - their opinions and feelings on a wide variety of stuff. From mindless banter to some soul-searching. Sometimes at the end of a tough or hectic day, a few words exchanged with her was all that it took for him to break into a smile.
But what did he know about her? Not enough to contact her through means other than online. As was evident now.
He dropped another e-mail and signed out.
When he did not see any reply the next day, he decided to check Facebook. What he saw disturbed him. There were a few posts on her wall. “Take care”. “Will pray for you.” And some more to that effect. What happened?
Worried, he narrowed down on a girl who he was reasonably certain was her roommate and sent her a message.
Hi. This was a friend of Saranya’s. Well, an online friend. Had been a while since he heard from her. Was everything alright? Was she not keeping well? Would she please say a ‘hi’ from him? Thanks.
A couple of days went by. There was no reply. And there was nothing else he could do. He felt helpless.
As his inbox loaded, the first thing that caught his eye was a Facebook notification. A reply to his message, after all!
He clicked on it.
The rest of it was a blur as his eyes scanned the message quickly. He caught only some of the words.
Gone home for the weekend…terrible car accident. Mother and sister… narrow escape. Seated in the front… very critical… ICU. On ventilator… extensive brain damage… No more…Funeral…couple of days back. Went to her home town… family grieving…
…didn’t speak much about her friends online… mentioned you a couple of times… Spoke fondly of you…Really sorry that you have to know it this way…
We’re still in shock…can’t believe this happened…
… ... ...
He went to her profile page. There she was. Beaming.
His chest tightened, and he felt choked. For someone who was known to be stoic, tears flowed effortlessly.
He cried… for a friend whom he had never seen. And would never see.