My dearest reader, that heading is one of the most un-poetic ones I have ever written, isn’t it? I have accomplished some notorious things in the course of the past one month. As with everything, there are no layers I hide from here. What You Read Is What You Get From Me.
By now, you know the story of last year with the person I affectionately call as Blocking Friend. You also know I am a practitioner of Vipassana meditation. This year, I have been meditating most days for an hour. What you may not know is that I have always been prone to what I can say are messages from another world. I have been visited by dead people and observed things that later come true. Last month, while meditating on a Sunday, I got the strangest and strongest message that I should check the Blocking Friend’s Goodreads profile. (Goodreads is a book-sharing and review site). Bear in mind that since the infamous falling apart, I haven’t checked anything from this friend. Yet, this voice was so strong. I finished my meditation and then did as asked. The Blocking Friend’s profile was private. That is strange because Goodreads is not like FB. What would you want to keep private? And then, that same voice urged me to check for “blocking on Goodreads.” Can you block people on Goodreads? I wondered. Apparently, you can. The profile just appears as private to the blocked person, I read. I winced. No. I thought. Can’t be. Why should I be blocked on a book-reading site?
I needed to know. I had another alternative Goodreads email, which I had created out of fear that I might lose my books on one ID. I logged in there, and there it was. I could now see the Blocking Friend’s profile. I felt a physical pain then, a stab that curled me up. That hurt. Of all the things we shared the most, our love for books was the strongest. That I had been blocked even here was the sharpest cut of all. Why was I asked to see this, I asked my Universe, anger and hurt coalescing into pity.
My eyes blurry, I went to close the tab. And that’s when I saw it. The last book that Blocking Friend had read was this obscure book called ‘It Rained All Night’ by Buddhadeba Bose. I froze, my hands on the mouse, staring at this. What was this? It was the same book I had finished just a few days before. Was it coincidence? I shook my head, logged out of that hurt and pain. Hours later, I told my friend, Birdy, who was stunned. “It’s not a coincidence. I am happy. So happy because it means that she is following your reviews.” I laughed. I laughed at poor Birdy’s eternal faith. And then, we placed a bet – she firm in her belief that the Blocking Friend was following my reviews, and me firm in my cynicism. We would observe over a month, we said.
Over the course of that same month, the Blocking Friend read two more books that I had also shelved recently. Coincidence? Plausible. But Birdy felt triumphant. I didn’t know what to make of it, but I felt then that this beyond the ridiculous. Why do we do this to each other? Why can’t we as human beings walk the bridges and wrap our arms around our weary shoulders? I felt utterly saddened. If Birdy was right, then a beautiful friendship has come down to this – sharing my life by reading some of my books even while I was blocked? I agonized over it, I asked questions of my Universe, which had dragged me there, but then I realized I have to block the Blocking Friend on Goodreads, if these shared book readings were not coincidences.
“Are you sure?” asked my friend pensive and disappointed. “No. I am not sure of anything.” I replied. But I realized something. Of all the things, this blocking on Goodreads hurt the most. And I wanted the Blocking Friend to feel that pain. To understand that our lives are more than just buttons to click away. It’s so easy- just click on “Block User,” and we think we can move on with our lives.
When you do that to stalkers, it’s ok. When you do that to people you care about, it wraps pain in multi-colored layers of hurt in your heart, where it lodges, an ache that always reminds you for a long time. “Consider it my affection for her, Birdy,” I continued. “I hope that if your theory is right, if she finds my profile blocked, she will feel that pain, and stop inflicting this pain on anyone else in the future. That she will understand that people are not disposable online goods. Here today and gone tomorrow at the click of a button. That’s my only wish.” “Is that all you want?” poked Birdy even more. I knew where she was coming from. “Yes. This is not tit-for-tat. Never.”
And so I did that thing. That thing called clicking a button to block. And it gave me that yucky feeling. I was to someone the same as stalkers, sharing the space with all the harassers in the world.
I closed Goodreads and felt that feeling of yuck traverse through me. Difficult situations are our best teachers, Pema tells me. Sometimes, Pema, just sometimes, I want an easy subject and an easy teacher. I want to pass and not feel like a fucked-up failure.
Note: If I ever hurt you or make you angry, my friend, please yell at me. Shout at me or tell me gently. But DO NOT ever block me. Let’s not make our friendship a shallow online world – let’s keep the richness of our emotions alive and throbbing in the real world.