3.45 PM. 356Q – Electronic City to KBS Volvo. It has been a cloudy day and started drizzling outside. David John, a cop surprisingly dressed in mufti this evening, was flipping through the newspaper seated in the second last row.
Shinto Abraham, a 26 year old guy entered the bus after Wipro Gate bus stop and sat next to a man who seemed to be in his early thirties. Both were dressed in formal wear. In no time, they were chatting up each other. David straightened up and tried hard listening to the ongoing conversation between these two but it was inaudible, thanks to the loud radio playing on the speaker of the bus. After about 10 minutes, Shinto moved to the seat opposite to the guy to face him directly as the conversation got serious. David rose from his seat, stepped to the lower-floor, and sat adjacent to them.
“You won’t believe doctor, I had such a miserable day explaining my situation to my manager.” Shinto said.
“You can try me. We counselors have a knack to turn someone’s miserable day to a beautiful one.” Counselor replied.
After thinking for a while, Shinto began to narrate about his day:
“Tell me the exact reason behind your resignation.” Arun Madhu, the manager demanded Shinto Abraham as he occupied the chair for his exit interview.
“Sir, I told you already. Love failure!” He shrugged.
“Don’t you think it’s too bizarre to hear such reply from a person of your caliber?” Arun showcased his diplomatic tactics to extract the real reason from his subordinate.
“It’s outlandish I know, but this is a fact, an unexpected anti-climax for a 5 year long relationship.”
“May I know the reason if you don’t mind?” Arun wasn’t convinced yet and tried out his next trick.
“It’s quite a long and boring story” Shinto replied.
“My schedule is free till evening. I am all ears for your story”
With nothing left to hide on his last day at office, Shinto opened up.
Three months back.
Shinto was on his way to office. He stopped at a Red signal. The count-down timer was running backwards from 120 seconds. He pulled out his mobile which has been vibrating since long. There wasn’t any call. It was just in his head. Murmuring to himself, he clicked a selfie with his bike and number of cars behind.
‘Waiting for the lights to turn green, feeling irritated @ Silk Board junction, Bangalore.’ While updating his status on FB, he was suddenly evoked by the loud honking from the vehicles
The signal had turned green and he drove off hastily.
By the time he reached office, it was already 11 O’ clock. He logged-in straight to his FB account ignoring his flooded mailbox. “What a gift to have you in my life. Love you with each moment, babe! I never thought I could feel this way…. You are so amazing and I am so blessed to spend my days with you. Waiting for the working hours to get over.” read one of the news feeds in FB.
It was Mr. Eddy’s fourth post in last one week, praising his newly married wife. Shinto gritted his teeth with anger.
“This fellow needs treatment.” He captured a screenshot of his status and posted in a group named Trolling Mater Minds with the following description, Looks like this chap hasn’t met a girl before.’
“Shinto, do you know how important this day for us?” A furious female voice hit his ears while he kept trolling the prominent politicians and stars in India and overseas on his group.
He turned around, “Hey, Nikki I’m a tad late today. What’s the matter?” He tried digressing the plot to avoid a clash with his 5 year old girlfriend.
“My name is Nikhitha.” Her temper was beyond his flattery could tackle.
“Ok. What’s so important about today?”
“Shinto, you proposed me on the same day five years back.” She raised her voice.
Oh, the lady still remembers while I started forgetting her name. He thought but said something else. “Why don’t we celebrate this monumental day by having an evening chat at Lal Bagh.” He knew it would gratify her. It was there he proposed her and the place since then had been special to her.
“Be ready by 4 in the evening.” She said and walked away with a hint of smile on her lips.
“It is very difficult to be with the girlfriend during office hours and how the hell did Eddy find it too easy handling his wife at home. May be the FB status would help.” He thought to himself, while scrolling through his mailbox.
4’O clock at Lal Bagh.
They entered the park through west gate after parking the bike. He bought two packets of peanuts on their way in.
Facing each other, sitting under a tree, Nikhitha asked, “So, what’s the plan?”
“Eating peanuts! ” He exclaimed while skipping between his Whatsapp groups.
She exchanged a long stare and stressed, “Our future plans?”
She brought up the subject on all their last four dates and Shinto was getting more and more irritated each time.
“Didn’t you see my troll trending in FB?” He tried changing the topic after taking his eye off the mobile.
She snatched it and said firmly, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Ahh, Our future is bright Nikhi, lemme check-in my location before the battery dies. Mobile please.”
She kept quiet. He almost finished his packet of peanuts and saw her’s was untouched.
“You didn’t eat even a single one?” He asked pointing to her peanut packet.
Nikhitha’s temper flipped for a moment and Shinto saw the peanuts she was holding flying towards him all together.
It was all over in the fraction of a second and it took a moment for Shinto to realize what just happened. “You..” He stammered, restraining from speaking something which he might regret later. He looked around to make sure nobody saw him getting humiliated by his girlfriend.
“How dare you??” His voice was rough.
She rose on her feet and said. “Let’s stop this right here! We do not make a good pair anymore. I don’t want to live like a mistress of yours.” She threw his mobile on her seat and headed towards the exit.
He held his composure, but the mobile couldn’t. It broke into many pieces and flung to all directions around him. “A mistress! Tell me you did not mean it” He asked, clutching his fist.
She turned around and said, “I meant what I said. I cannot live with a person who spends most of his time with a mobile by living in a virtual world. I need a man, a real one. Not someone like you.”
These words has the potential to hurt the ego of any man and so did Shinto’s. “I‘ll find a better ***** than you.” He yelled out but it didn’t bother her.
“Mundina nildana Silkboard, Next stop Slikboard” The announcement on the bus was louder.
“So, was your Manager convinced at the end?” Counselor asked Shinto.
“I don’t give a damn about it. I told him what caused me to put down my papers.” Shinto replied.
“Was it the only reason you resigned?” Counselor asked.
“Doctor, I didn’t want to face her in office anymore. Moreover, I was thinking to break-up with her anyways for a long time now.” He sounded so silly, while saying that.
“Doctor, you won’t believe, she didn’t understand a single scene from the movie Inception which is my all-time favorite.”
Counselor sat with a stunned look as Shinto continued, “And you know what, the birdbrain didn’t even believe in Moon landing. She is not of my taste.” He said by shaking his head.
Counselor, who was sitting stupefied, opposite to him in the air conditioned Volvo thought for a while said. “I have met many people in my short career, but not a single one was like you.”
Shinto grinned and the counselor continued, “What’s is your next plan?”
“I don’t know. I was waiting for the day to get over and now, here am I sitting in front of you.” He shrugged.
“Did you meet her today?” Counselor asked.
“No. I ran out of office as soon as I was done with my exit interview.”
The counselor said, “People refuse to disclose personal affairs even on a formal counselling session and you have told almost everything that has happened to you.”
“I have no guilt. Hence I don’t mind sharing it with anyone. Do you know, I haven’t used a mobile for three months? I want to prove her wrong, I want to beat her in my own way.”
“You should be thankful to her for that.” The counselor replied.
“Why should I-” Shinto was interrupted by the counselor.
“You were a patient with multiple mental disorders and she helped you to come out of it.”
Shinto wrinkled his forehead unable to comprehend what he was being told “What do you mean?”
“You felt mobile vibrations when there weren’t any calls?” Counselor asked.
“It’s called Phantom Vibration Syndrome. And, did you unabashedly abuse people online and trolled them?”
“Yeah. But it was-”
Counselor interrupted again. “It is called Online Disinhibition effect and if you wanted to update and post everything online, you were a goldfish too.”
“Doctor I didn’t-”
“I have one more ailment to inform you. You got anxious when your mobile was about to die and that’s called Nomophobia.”
Shinto looked into his eyes for few seconds and said. “The names seems to be so funny. I will google it out with my symptoms, if you let me note them down.”
Counselor chuckled at him and said. “If you compulsively search the internet for information about real and imagined symptoms of illness, you have Cyberchondria.”
“I am done doctor, you are impossible.”
They both laughed together.
“I am glad that I overtook the ailments without a treatment.” Shinto exclaimed after a while.
“Nikhitha was your treatment.” Counselor replied and they both observed a long silence.
After a while, the counselor asked, “Are you done with all your confessions?”
“Yeah. I have nothing more.” He said.
“Let me make a call then. I told a person to be at Lal Bagh by 5 and it’s already 5.30.”
“Don’t worry, you will reach in 10 minutes.” Shinto said, while the counselor dialed a girl, whom he was going to meet for the first time.
Once the call was done, Shinto asked. “Girlfriend?”
“No.. Its.. Its a marriage proposal. I am going to meet her for the first time.”
They exchanged pleasantries about the proposal, discussed about the aliments a little more in detail and got the change from the conductor, which only the lucky ones ever get in BMTC buses. But they didn’t know they were under the close surveillance of a policeman seated near to them.
The bus reached South end signal and Shinto got up from his seat. “Doctor, it was a pleasure meeting you.” He said.
“The pleasure is all mine.” Doctor exclaimed.
“Sorry, I forgot to ask your name.”
“Cinu Cherain.” The counselor replied.
“See you and all the best for your proposal.”
“Thank you. Good bye, take care.”
Shinto, along with few other passengers got down and the bus continued heading to it’s destination. It reached Lal Bagh in few minutes and the counselor got down from the bus.
He bought the entry pass. While entering the park, he searched for his mobile. Alas! A thunderbolt jolted his brain. His brand new Iphone 7 was missing. He stood there helpless and shocked. It was with him during all the conversation he had with Shinto and where it had gone now? He began to tremble. He didn’t know where his possible would-be-wife is waiting in that 240 acre long park. He had promised his friends to update the status, soon after reaching there.
The image he built about Shinto began to fall down like a house of cards. Was he lying? Was it a cooked up story to steal my cell phone? It was so expensive! An array of thoughts streamlined in his head and drops of sweat appeared on his face.
Two kilometers away from Lal-Bagh, Shinto took a seat at South end circle bus stop and unlocked the counselor’s mobile. He had noticed the unlocking pattern even before they started their conversation. His index finger tapped on the gallery icon and it lead to the recorded videos. First one was the whole conversation he had with the counselor. There were many counselling videos recorded in the mobile. He scrolled through those and dialed a number from his cell phone.
“Sir, he is the one we are looking for. Videos are still in it. Lock him down.”
The call was received by David John and the counselor wasn’t that far from his sight. David stepped towards the convict who leaked the counselling session of a lady who committed suicide the week before out of harassment from the society because of the leaked tape. He had kept track of all the counselors she had been through and finally, here’s the culprit!