Shashi was a boy, who like all other boys went to school. But, unlike most boys, he was not allowed to decide for his own future. It was his father who decided what he will study, where he will study and how he will study. And also what he will not study, where he will not study and how he will not study. So, when the boy grew up to be a man, he found himself confronted with a world where he had to make his own decisions of which he had no experience. He tried to compensate for his lack by making such decisions that were not the obvious ones, decisions that created the greatest impact and gave him an enormous sense of responsibility in exercising them. Thus when friends invited him for picnics, he decided not to join. When an opportunity came for him to go abroad to study, he decided not to go. When he was offered a job, he decided not to take it. When there was talk of his marriage, he decided not to marry.
The one thing that Shashi loved doing was writing – writing stories. Fiction. In his stories he used to make his characters act rationally by making wise decisions for them. His characters went out to picnics with friends, went abroad to study, took up jobs and even married. He decided for them with as much responsibility as if they inhabited the real world and not the imaginary one that he has created.
Then one day Shashi fell in love – for the second time. His first love was writing stories but his second was a woman he met at a poetry reading session. She was a foreigner on a visit and they became friends. They kept their acquaintanceship over Orkut, Facebook and Twitter for a number of years. One day he expressed his love for her in a matter of fact way in a message to her. She confirmed love from her side too hoping for a consummation of their love and living their lives together. Some more time passed by soon. Then one day she asked Shashi exasperatedly,
“Don’t you want to marry me?”
He replied, “Yes. But I can’t. Long time back I decided not to marry.”
“Because then I did not love anyone.”
“But now you do.”
“I can’t reverse my decision. It is my responsibility to bear the consequences of the decision I have exercised.”
“But I love you.”
The woman vanished from the virtual world from then on. The friendship froze.
Years later Shashi again saw the woman at a literary festival. She was now the companion of a famous writer known for his grumpiness. He stood at the end of the queue to get his copy signed. When he came forward the woman was surprised to see him. He in turn surprised the famous writer by inviting his companion for coffee. The famous writer accompanied them to the café. They had their introduction along with the coffee. It was then that Shashi made his pronouncement, “I want to marry you,” to the astonishment of both the listeners present. The famous writer coughed and the woman looked at him askance. So he added, “Because I still love you.”
She mumbled, “Why…”
He interrupted her, “I decided to override my earlier decision.”
He did not wait for her reply and left instantly. This time it was Shashi who disappeared from the virtual world – perhaps into his imaginary world, the world of his stories.