Okay, it’s just an Instagram DM. I can do it. Just a simple DM! It’s not weird. At all.
Best to put it all in one message and send it?
Hey! I Just wanted to check in on family and friends – how are you doing at this time?
Cute? Yeah. I think so. I think about texting Angela to ask if this DM is alright but then I do a quick mental calculation…. it’s almost 2:30 AM in Mumbai and she is most definitely asleep. As she should be. Nevermind. It’s just a text. Not a big deal, at all. I sent this exact same text to actual friends. Okay, send. Fuck. No, no, I’m fine. Done.
Alright, I’ll just put my phone to the right of my laptop facing down. No need to think about it anymore. Focus on work. I begin reading the script for the third time and make it to the seventh page when I hear a ding. The speed at which I launch for my phone would make my high school basketball coach proud – I was always a good stealer. But relax. It may not be him. We are all stuck in isolation after all so he could be actually working from home. Relax.
I turn the phone around and alas. It is not him. It is my mother sending me a message on WhatsApp. For the third time today and it’s only after 2:00 PM. LA time. So basically noon, the start of the workday.
Did you eat beta?
What are you doing now? Exercise?
I see three dots forming again and I quickly jump in.
Yes, mama! I ate fruits! Now going to do a yoga exercise from Youtube.
Her typing stops. Success. But it starts again and she shoots off a message before I’m able to leave the app.
Oh, yoga?? Send me a link also!
I quickly leave but feel a bit of guilt slowly starting to embrace me so I decided to google a yoga workout. I pick the second Youtube option – the young white woman looks fit enough? – and send it to Mama. The guilt loosens its embrace. Okay. I also notice that the boy has not responded. Maybe he’s been offline for a while? Do I check – no, no. Maya, stop it. You are better than this. Go back to work.
I put the phone face down, once again, and go back to the script. This is not hard. Just read. Okay, this is an interesting dialogue here. Wait, who is Ben again?
After about 55 minutes of immersing myself into the deep dark world of reality TV show dating and a 30-year-old’s quest to prove that love is truly about what is within, I feel oddly… inspired? If Jessica can look past her blond locks and see that she is self-sabotaging her love for Ben, who is slightly younger, I can also stop self-sabotaging and obsess over a DM. Speaking of, let me just check my phone. Nothing.
Alright, that’s fine. Not a big deal. It’s time for my 3:00 PM work call anyway. I decide to take a walk around my street instead of pacing in my kitchen area. Social distancing is killing me. Was I even that much of an extrovert? I look through my Instagram DMs… okay yes, I did text around thirteen people today to check in on them but I’m just super caring. I want to know how people are doing! And how he is doing… Fuck it, I’ll open up the chat. Active 3 hours ago. Okay! So he’s just working, like a normal person. I’m just being so silly and pathetic, and dumb – oh, my self-pity rant is interrupted by this call. Thank god.
Okay, that was a nice walk. Great phone meeting. Slightly shorter than expected but there is only so much information I can coax out of someone about their cooking routine. It was also getting a little weird how into the conversation I was, as I don’t really cook apart from sandwiches, but that’s fine. It’s a weird time. She knows I’m just itching to be in the presence of a human.
Oh damn, is that person in the corner coughing? Best to run back up into the apartment. Does that make me a bad person…? It’s fine. I’m just being careful. I check my Instagram DMs and see seven of the thirteen people have responded. Some in paragraphs. Before I know it, I’ve spent 30 minutes chatting to Stacy in New York about the 90,000 + cases there and how she relies on Hinge to quell her loneliness. Oof. How is LA, she asks? Well, everyone is in quarantine. I’m driving myself mad. But I know it’s for the best. We both then spend another 15 minutes scouring the news and see that someone has received the first vaccine! A woman in her 40’s no less! There is still hope, we both say. Even though I’m on the call, I keep checking Instagram. No text from the dude. Active 4 hours ago. Damn.
Okay. Is it too early to eat dinner? Or should I go for a tea time snack? How have I already gone through almost a quarter of my quarantine snack supplies? Maybe I should ask Shivaani if she wants to do a yoga workout this evening when she’s back from work. Sucks that she still has to go in but pharmacy work never stops. What a star.
Okay, just a few Tostitos Lime chips with spinach dip. Totally okay, and healthy-ish. I decide to finally tackle the script again to write proper notes but before I do that maybe I’ll just check… and nope. No response. Why? I know why – he is working, Maya. But ugh. Okay, back to work for you too. Just write your damn notes.
Okay, so maybe Jessica is not the best person and is not good for Ben. Definitely not going to be the fan-favorite. Maybe if we hear from Ben a little more as to why he’s so…besotted with her? See her through his eyes – oh, I hear the door! Shivaani is home! Thank god! But damn, I’ve got to send these notes. A quick email with my notes so far… subject: Notes So Far… done.
Shivaani is looking at me weirdly. Have I never asked about her work? Okay, I definitely have but maybe not in so much detail. But I want to hear about the drama with the coworker! I have got to get a life. Oh, did I text with the boy today, she asks? Well, let me tell you, Shivaani! So I tell her how I texted him, and he still hasn’t responded. He could be busy, she says. I need to get a life.
But yay, she agrees on the yoga workout! She brings her yoga mat and I fashion one out of my extra blanket. This feels good. Oh, I see my phone lighting up. No, focus on the work-out. Oh, break time! I leap to my phone and see three other people have responded to my DMs. Oh, Papa is Whatsapping me. How am I? Well. Okay, Papa is doing well too. Mama is driving him crazy? Oh, damn, the break is over. Sorry Papa, back to exercising!
Who knew yoga was that intense? Okay, maybe everybody but maybe I’ll get fit during this quarantine. Get that coronabod… okay, never sharing that joke to anyone but Shivaani. Do I even want to check my phone? Obviously. More people responding to my messages, to my Insta story of the yoga mats – yes, I’m the self-care dream! – and oh, an email response to my notes. Okay, I’ll look into it tomorrow. Omg, a text!
Shivaani looks at me. Yikes, that was an audible gasp. I tell her. We cheer. What a buddy.
I’m alright! Working out, working, walking, and watching TV haha.
I stupidly smile. I knew I wasn’t crazy. Only a couple of hours later! He could very well have been super busy for sure. I decide to wait until he is done messaging and set my phone on the table while I fill up my water bottle. I guess I know my night plans – DM’ing this person away. With a glass of wine… I can’t decide this is sad. It’s not. In times like these, you need human connection, right?
I walk back to the table and check my phone. Huh. There is no follow-up. It’s been like, 3 minutes already… how much is he typing? I go on my Instagram messages and see – oh he’s not typing? What? That’s so weird, Shivaani says. Is that it? Is he really not going to ask about me? Ugh. Okay, fuck it. This is over. I’m going on Hinge. Still having that wine, though. What a waste of time waiting for the text.
After a quick sandwich wrap meal paired with the Patriot Act, and two glasses of wine, I start feeling… less judgey. Hasan is so well-groomed. So smart. So cute. So is this dude. Maybe if I just follow-up with a ‘lol’ and….okay, fuck it. It’s just an Instagram DM.
This short story was inspired by Dorothy Parker’s ‘A Telephone Call.’