Answer ( 1 )

  1. IT WAS PROBABLY 2 IN THE NIGHT WHEN I GOT HER TEXT. Let’s call her J.

    *J wants to send you a message on Instagram* a notification had popped up.

    I was on the verge of dozing off when the alert made me open one eye. Cursing the brightness of my phone, I clicked on the notification and arrived at the message. She had replied to my story with a laughing emoji and that was it, nothing more. But something about her picture caught my attention.

    I had seen that face before— an above waist shot in a burgundy crop-top, smiling at the camera while posing on what looked like a beach. Yes. She had apparently been on a like-spree a few weeks ago— you know one where someone keeps on liking all your images back to back.

    At first it was probably just 7–10 likes. She had paused. Then came another burst of 10–15. I had gone away for some work and picked up my phone about an hour later, only to be surprised to find a flurry of notifications, and that is when I realised that she had gone through all the 100+ pics and probably liked every single one of them.

    That never happens.

    Did she want to grab my attention? I mean who does that? I didn’t pay much heed. Her profile did seem attractive, so like every other sane guy I had closed my Instagram and slept peacefully at the time… after obviously visiting her profile which was unfortunately private.

    But when I received her text that night, I didn’t know if I was supposed to respond (How do you even respond to an emoji?)

    So I just replied with a smiley, the one with the blue halo over its head, and tried to doze off again.

    This time her response came back in seconds.

    J: You don’t remember me, do you?

    Was I supposed to? I mean Insta doesn’t even allow you to magnify the profile pics, how was I supposed to see her face?

    I tapped on her profile and surprisingly found it public this time.

    Yes. I could see her, and yes, she was incredibly gorgeous. She seemed a little short in height, but her affable smile pretty much didn’t let you focus on it. Round spectacles adorned her oval face and her dark dense hair with casual brown highlights complimented her pale skin. She had a few of her pictures amidst a gallery of beautiful shots of nature and animals and shoes— lots and lots of shoes. But her face didn’t ring any bells. I had no clue who she was. So I decided to think on my feet and reply back—

    Divyansh: Quora?

    J: No. Goa. Uff… *Facepalm emoji*

    What?

    Yes. I had been to Goa 3 months ago, but that was a trip with my friends. Last I checked, she wasn’t one. I seriously had no idea who she was. I was puzzled.

    I immediately searched for her FB profile to check for any mutual friends but failed to find it. She has a pretty common name. So I scrolled back through her pictures on Instagram, and surprisingly enough, she had posted snaps of her vacation in Goa at around the same time that I was there.

    Weird.

    J: You’re not one of those guys… are you? *angry-face emoji*

    Divyansh: Did we meet in Goa?

    J: You’re kidding, right?

    Bewildered, I checked her profile bio.

    Kolkata | Future Lawyer, Past Nerd, Presently preparing to conquer the world.

    She had about 1700 followers, followed about 120, seemed like a genuine profile.

    But I had no idea who she was.

    Divyansh: I’m sorry, but I seriously doubt that we have met before.

    J: 30 June, around midnight, Tito’s Lane. Remember?

    Holy crap! I was actually there that night. Tito’s Lane near Baga Beach houses most of the clubs in Goa.

    But I still didn’t remember her.

    Divyansh: Yessss?

    J: You people were stags, so you entered the club with us. You still don’t remember?

    Yes. We did ask a group of girls. Stag entries kill you in clubs. When going for clubbing and you happen to be a stag, either pay loads of money and spend the rest of the month surviving on chips or spot a group of single girls and enter as couples for almost half the price, which is a much better option any day.

    But… I STILL DIDN’T REMEMBER HER.

    Divyansh: Yeah… but I’m pretty sure you weren’t one of them.

    J: You’re kidding, right? Remember, we both were the only ones who were ecstatic when Portugal lost and was routed out of the World Cup?

    Holy mother of babbling bumbling bunch of baboons. How on Earth did she…? Was she really the one I was speaking to? There is no way that she was that girl. Her complexion was a little dark, she didn’t wear any glasses. She was from Xavier’s in Mumbai, a little bit healthier than her, and her name started with the letter H.

    Divyansh: Umm… I’m pretty sure that I did not meet you. How do you even…?

    J: You’re definitely kidding with me, right? Good one. Anyway, I had just grabbed your first name in Goa, and I know that we never exchanged numbers or pleasantries (music was so loud, lol); but it took me some efforts to find your Instagram. Anyway, just wanted to let you know. Thought we could discuss recent reads. Bye.

    No.

    No.

    I was pretty sure that I did not meet her at any point of time, neither in Goa, nor in India, not even in my freaking dreams. I absolutely didn’t know who she was.

    So I did what any sane guy would. Took a snapshot of her pic and sent it to my best friend.

    Best Friend: Brooo!!! *insert flame emoji*

    Divyansh: Do you know her?

    Best Friend: I wish. *insert a few creative words for her which can’t be spoken out loud*

    Divyansh: Did we meet her in Goa?

    Best Friend: What? No.

    Divyansh: *narrated the entire episode to him*

    Best Friend: Brooo!!! Stalkerrrr!!! Nice!!!

    Divyansh: *Questioning his own choice of friends*

    Best Friend: Nah bro, she wasn’t in that group. Otherwise I would have remembered her.

    Yes.

    I wasn’t crazy.

    My memory wasn’t betraying me.

    I had never met that woman in my life.

    Period.

    But then how on Earth did she know so much about me? She definitely could have got the date when I was in Goa and about the club from my Instagram, but there is no way on Earth that the woman could’ve known that we had another group of girls join us to get inside the club.

    And how did she even know that I was ecstatic about Portugal losing the match? Yes. I was dancing. I was dancing madly when Ronaldo was routed out. Barca fan for life.

    BUT I DID NOT KNOW WHO THE WOMAN IS.

    I got back to her a few minutes later.

    Divyansh: Okay! This is crazy. But there is no way on Earth that I would forget meeting someone.

    J: It’s fine. This must be really random for you. I understand.

    Divyansh: But how do you know all that stuff?

    J: Because… well we spoke with each other, for a while, before your group separated. Remember?

    Yes. Yes I bloody remember.

    But I can’t remember her.

    Divyansh: Okay! Either someone has gone to great lengths to play a prank on me (which is working well BTW), or my memory has eluded me.

    J: Or you were drunk beyond your senses. Lol. Blackout?

    I closed my phone. Threw it on the bed. Almost died as I saw it making an abnormal bounce and landing just short of the edge.

    But I couldn’t bloody remember meeting her at all. The woman I spoke to for a while definitely wasn’t her. I couldn’t have been mistaken. But she had narrated almost all the details of that night with absolute accuracy and yet… she was never there.

    “It’s a prank”, I had convinced myself while seriously doubting my memory. I recalled that night as clearly as I could, but it wasn’t her.

    Nope.

    Nada.

    And just when I thought that it couldn’t get any worse, guess what, shit hits the roof.

    The phone buzzed again. It was a message from J. I opened Instagram again and saw that she had sent an image.

    J: Found this. Hehehe.

    It was a pic which made my head swirl.

    It was a pic which made me sick to the stomach.

    It was a pic which made me rub my eyes more than a dozen times.

    It was her selfie with her friend, who was a little on the chubbier side, holding a chicken wing in one of her hand and a glass of alcohol on the other, posing badly while pouting hard with her thin lips. I recognised her at once. One of the girls who had accompanied us into the club. Without a doubt. I had seen the other woman that night.

    Worse yet… a group of guys were dancing in the back… a tall one in black cotton Henleys with two white stripes running across the arms stood out instantly.

    Yes. I found myself looking at myself.

    But I still don’t remember ever meeting her. She wasn’t the girl I had met, and yet, there she was, with her pretty face and stupendous smile, propagating a mystery that has blown my mind lately.

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