The internet has become a world of its own. The worldwide web is a different reality with parallel identities, and it has become a place for people to hide. Some rise beyond their condition while others get sucked even deeper into the chasms of this parallel universe.
After my SLC exams, I stayed at home.
The initial thrill of completing school was soon shadowed by the fact that I was perpetually bored. Most of my friends were hanging out and taking ‘bridge course’ classes. I wanted to be with them, and I would have been them if not for my over-protective parents. They had passed beyond the guardian-ly concern and had become the paranoid parents who didn’t want me to feel ‘liberated’, and they lived in the fear that I’d end up doing something stupid.
Little did I know that I’d be doing exactly that.
The familiarity of my laptop’s screen comforted me dearly during those times. My brother had sent me the laptop as a gift, and I had soon championed using it for my own amusement.
The idea of having the internet at my disposal was liberating. And I soon indulged in it. I opened a Facebook account, opened another one for YouTube where I subscribed to channels that posted funny videos of cats and dogs. I loved watching comics make parodies of famous movies. I guess for a while it was all well and good in the virtual realm of cat videos and parodies.
Then I started using Facebook. I loved the idea of my knowing what my friends were up to without actually having to meet them. I scrolled through their pictures and I imagined myself with them. I imagined myself with them devouring luscious food at preppy restaurants. I imagined a lot of things; boating, sightseeing, cycling, get-together – everything that was restricted for me.
I hardly talked to them since most of the were busy in their own engagements. Soon my Facebook was flooded with friend request and scanning through each of them was exhausting. But I felt oddly titillated. There was this raw rush of joy in knowing that someone wanted to be a part of my inane life even if the life was a virtual one.
There was this guy I started talking to. He was oddly mysterious. He kept no pictures of himself. The profile was private with no updates from his life, he was almost a ghost.
When I try to look back and think of why I started the conversation, I think it was because his anonymity excited me. He had a way with words. He made me feel like I was someone special, someone who mattered to him.
During the initial phase, he mostly only limited himself to words. I used to imagine what he looked like but never had the courage to ask him for a picture. It all moved quickly than I’d imagined.
He started to flirt incessantly. And I’d enjoy it. Soon we were Skyping at midnight. I don’t know when it all started because it all happened so fast. But soon, what used to be innocent flirtations, suddenly became carnal.
Soon my Facebook was flooded with friend request and scanning through each of them was exhausting. But I felt oddly titillated.
He’d ask me to do ‘obscene things’ over Skype. One time, he begged me to take my top off. When I didn’t, he cursed me. I refused for a few days but then I finally gave in to it. I kept telling myself “do it once, then it’ll be over.” But it was never over. Soon I was trapped in something that I probably brought upon to myself on my own.
It was because I was in love with him, or at least I thought so. He would expect me to feel good about it all but it never felt so. I remember crying all night after one of our sessions over Skype ended. I even considered suicide. I was losing sleep, losing my appetite. But mostly, I was losing myself.
Now, after all these year when I go home for holidays, I can still see the laptop tucked in a corner of my room, standing as the lone witness of one of the darkest time of my life.
I choose not to look at it.
(The author wishes to remain anonymous)
Opening image: Pexels; other image: Image Catalog/Flickr
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