Remember the song from The Sound of Music, ‘I am sixteen, going on seventeen?’
Well, I am fifty six, going on fifty seven.
Naturally, I’m not too active on Facebook. All I do is regularly wish people happy birthdays and occasionally post links to new articles on my blog. Beyond that, I’m largely a mute, and often amazed, spectator to all the stuff people pour out on the public platform – from intimate photographs to mundane chores to graphic details of extremely personal nature.
I used to get friend requests from my type of conservative, shy people, usually acquaintances from work, and I would generally accept them. Thus continued my boring and unsocial existence on the social media.
I don’t know what changed, but recently, I started getting friend requests from totally unknown folks, from all over the world. I was rather thrilled to see that my modest output on the blog was creating an army of fans worldwide!
In hindsight, I wish I had continued to rejoice under the misconception, but I decided to ask a young man from Venezuela, who had just requested my friendship. I expected him to say, “Your writing has touched me, moved me and made me laugh. I am too far away to meet you in person and hug you and shake you by the hand, so please honour me by accepting my friendship on Facebook.”
Or some similar words. I mean… you get the drift.
So I messaged him, enquiring why he had taken the trouble of asking for my friendship.
He replied, rather nonchalantly, “I don’t know. FB suggested your name, so I sent the request.”
With a deflated ego, I deleted his request.
Next, I got one from a gent whose profile picture was a snow capped mountain and whose name was written in a language that I am totally unfamiliar with. How do I even know that it’s a gent, you ask? Tell me, what lady will give up a chance to post her best picture? And would a lady, of whatever proportions, ever choose a mountain to suggest her size?
So, totally dejected at the thought that the whole world was ignoring me, as well as my poor little blog, I stopped even looking at new friend requests.
Then, one day, it happened.
Yes, a miracle happened and I realised that in the annals of Facebook friendships, I had finally arrived!
I got a friend request from a very pretty young lady, who is too stunning to ignore. Her profile picture shows a scantily clad figure worthy of a model, and a smile to make Cleopatra jealous.
I checked out her details. She is from Australia and currently lives in Europe. An adventurous extrovert, she is single, fond of outdoors and likes mature men!
I admired all her pictures, while, with great effort, I held back my eager hand from clicking the ‘Accept’ button.
I know that hiding behind that beautiful profile is probably a Nigerian scamster laughing like a villain from a mythological movie, waiting to defraud me by spinning an international tale of money and romance, where I’m to play James Bond to help the gorgeous girl and get rewarded in cash and kind.
Bond likes his Martini with lemon, shaken, not stirred; and I take my tea with sugar, stirred, not shaken!
So I am humbly and painfully aware that I’m nowhere near Bond in looks or coolness quotient, but the fact that someone – even a potential swindler – thinks that I am worthy of a temptation and eligible for a honey-trap, is gratifying enough at my age.
When a thirty something Bollywood beauty, pretending to be eighteen, bats her false eyelashes and says, ‘I love you’ to a fifty something hero pretending to be twenty five; no matter how fake, it sure must boost his ego!
That’s exactly what I’m feeling right now.
So, I’m going to let the dream remain a sweet dream, and not ruin it by accepting her friendship and revealing the truth.
And I think I’ll dye my hair. Or better still, I’ll change my profile picture to one from thirty years ago and delete my date of birth from FB.
As Mirza Ghalib has said, “Humko maloom hai jannat ki haqikat lekin, dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib, ye khayal achchha hai.”
Which means, “I know the truth about the promised paradise, but to keep the heart happy, the idea of heavenly bliss is nice.”
© Avinash Chikte