"What The Fuck?"
I have a very interesting story to share with all of you. This is based on real life incidents... Read it till the end, I promise you, you will not regret it. I was freaked out completely - Believe me, this happened.
It starts with short email summaries, and random bits later. But, read till the end... I used to write freeware programs in my spare time during those days. One very popular program was Blaze Composer, a web designing software.
Date: 18/06/2008 (mail)
I got a mail from a girl called Aparna Joshi who had an email address with IIT-B in it. She said that she had used a web designing tool that I had written and found it useful. She thanked me for offering it for free. Next day, she sent a mail with possible enhancements. I replied to the mail, and she said that she would get back to me if she had anything else.
Conversation thread ends on 20/06/2008
Date: 21/06/2008 (mail)
Got a mail from her again, saying that she liked the tool a lot. She also told that she had the habit of sleeping with the music on in her computer, and often the computer remained on throughout the night. She asked if I could write a tool which would power down the system at a particular time. She also paid compliments to a certain photo of mine on my site, and said that she enjoyed reading my blog. We had our exams, and decided to continue talking later
Conversation thread ends on 02/07/2008
Date: 02/07/2008 (mail)
Got a mail from her, introducing herself. Said that she was from IIT-B, and that she was doing her electrical engineering. She asked what I was doing, and told me a bit about her. Her profile picture was a side pose. She was very friendly in her way of talking, and seemed to give very positive vibes. I asked her to change the picture since she looked like a prisoner, but she said that many of her friends had told her the same thing, but wanted that picture there - Said that the lab (electro magnetics) was like a prison itself.
Mind you, this is not a random statement I made. I am summarising the emails here, but the conversation tone of the mails in general were very friendly. There were many mails regarding software, etc. which I am skipping.
Conversation thread ends on 03/07/2008
Date: 04/07/2008 (mail)
She asked me what time I would be available for a chat. I said that I kept coming and going, and leaving an offliner would enable her to catch me.
Conversation thread ends on 04/07/2008
Date: 05/07/2008 (mail)
She left me an offliner. I was not online. I also received a mail saying that she had updated the photo. The face was still not visible, owing to the size of photos in Gmail profile pics.
Conversation thread ends on 05/07/2008
Date: 05/07/2008 (chat)
We spoke on chat for the first time - The conversation tone was rather general. The style of talking, though, was very friendly. At that time, placements were going on. She said that she was doing her internship in Apple, San Francisco. She knew the HOD of the Comp Sci dept of PESIT, and said that her sister was from PESIT as well, and was his favourite student. This conversation was when she was in the USA. She told me the time there... She spoke about IITs, and how different people do internships in different institutes.
She had sent me a mail with her web pages, and her resume, and things that she would want to post there. This was just for me to see how it would look, since she was designing a web page for the first time. The pages were simple, but nice. I went through her resume, and saw a perfect profile - very high GPA, many projects under professors of IITs, and the typical name, address, register number, hobbies, etc.
After this, there were several conversations, and these conversations spread over two years. We had several intellectual discussions where this person was able to answer several technical questions based on vlsi that were not simple... The girl was very intelligent, but most importantly, the girl was a wonderful friend. She was very comforting to talk to, and spoke like a friend I have known since ages. She was very helpful as well, and helped out with the editing of Statements Of Purposes (SOPs) of some of my friends, and also gave tips on how to go about things. Overall, she was the perfect girl - intelligent, helpful, witty and charming... Don't jump to conclusions, this is not a romantic thing :-)
I had asked her if she was on Orkut, but she said that she was bugged by it because she had 37,000+ scraps, and had got addicted to it. So, she quit, and had developed an aversion to it. She maintained a blog, but didn't like writing much in it...
She told how she enjoyed life at IIT-B, her professors, her two best friends - Apeksha (IIT-B) and Sneha Kumar (RVCE, Bangalore). Sneha Kumar was mentioned several times, and I got the impression that she was her best friend. This girl also got placed in Oracle Server Technologies, but subsequently gave it up to do her MS in US.
She was also in CST during the 26/11 shoot-out. Things were in a state of complete panic there, and while everyone was running helter-skelter, so did she... And when she turned back and saw, a guy got shot just behind her. If not for that guy, it would have been her number. A friend of hers got shot in the arm, but didn't die. They were crying a lot...
What struck me most was her list of accomplishments - She had around 8 projects, an internship in Apple (she had told me that she was doing her internship at Apple in one of our conversations) and had four papers in IEEE journals. She got placed in Bell Labs, one of the best companies in the world. She later had 1570 as her status message. When I asked her what it was, she said that it was her GRE score, and she later had the chance to get into MIT or Stanford - And MIT was not funded. But later, Bell Labs decided to fund her, and there was no bond either. She could complete her PhD and come back and work for them. Incredible, isn't it?
She then flew to the US, but on the way, her laptop got lost in the baggage. She was still trying to trace it, and finally being unable to find it, the authorities compensated by giving her more than twice the cost of it as damages.
She finally got settled in the US. She was staying in an apartment, with three room mates, two were from MIT, and one more from another university. She enjoyed cooking the most... She told me the rent there, and about various professors - The great people who are the authors of text books here, were her guides!! I was very impressed, as were most of my friends. She used to address them by first name, like they were her buddies. She even got a lab, just adjacent to Pranav Mistry, the famous guy with the 6th sense. She told me how his girl friend used to bug him to come out, while he was busy in the lab all the time.
Meanwhile, her sister also got a baby, and she had become an aunt. We had spoken at personal levels very often too...
The twist - Tragedy!
She always used to reply to mails promptly. One day, I sent a mail to her on behalf of one of my friends regarding some universities. I didn't get a reply for two months. I dismissed this, thinking that she must have been really busy.
Two months later, I got a mail from her, and she had replied - She also apologised for being very late. She then cleared the doubts - but also told that she had met with a very serious car accident, and was hospitalised for two months. She was driving a car there, and a road train (those big trucks) had jumped a signal and rammed into her. The driver was a drunk guy with no license too... She had had multiple organ failure, and had slipped into coma a couple of times. Her parents had rushed to see her. Her sister, who was married to a man who was working in a jet propulsion lab in CalTech, had rushed to meet her earlier. The doctors were worried that she would lose her memory. Her condition was so bad that she had to be shifted to a different hospital and was taken by helicopter there... The distance between the two cities, she said, was an hour's journey.
But she didn't. She was recovering, although she was feeling very weak. We had a long conversation after that - She described the trauma, and told how she was now enjoying all the pampering. I was freaked out, imagining how bad a situation she was in... but she sounded very cheerful. After a long conversation, culminating with me giving credit to her for being such a sport about it all, and her describing the beauty of the USA and the departments' efficiency there, I went away because she had gone for her shots, and she hadn't returned for a long time, and I was running late (it was way past midnight here) and later got an off-liner from her - a parting good night message.
After this, we didn't talk for a couple of months, and I sent her a mail asking her how she was. I received a mail from her - which on opening, I realised was from her sister. The sister said that she had passed away!! I got goosebumps. She said that she had passed away on August 2nd, that was 8 days after my last conversation with her. Apparently, it was because the damage to her lungs was too bad! I offered my condolences. I relayed the information to some of my friends who were also her big fans. We were all crushed, and devastated... I, personally, having spoken so much to her, was really low.
The Twist (yeah, another one)
Barely had four days passed after that mail, a friend of mine pinged me saying she found it weird that her name was not mentioned on the MIT obituary list. And she also said that this person, who was so smart, didn't have a name mentioned anywhere... Now, this was weird, because I had tried looking her up, and had not found her before, but had dismissed it, because I was too impatient to do a detailed search.
So, then, the two of us started hunting her - She has no mention anywhere!! It's like she was a ghost, a non existent entity. Like, she never existed... There are no traces of her anywhere on the internet. I looked her up in the IIT-B list of students and alumni - No entry. The register number that was there in her resume, has two characters different from the pattern followed there (She had EE for electrical engineering, but they seem to follow 00) and moreover, the last five digits that are unique, pointed to some guy with the surname Chakraborthy.
There never was a person with her name in IIT-B for the last 15 years. Before that, there was one, but was an MPhil, not an electrical engineer.
Her name is not mentioned in the list of students in MIT, nor mentioned in the list of students in the research lab that she was supposed to have worked. I started taking her projects - She claims to have done a robot called "Agrobot". Agrobot is a robot created by students of IIT-B, but her name is not there in that list! The other project titles also when I tried to look up, were existing, but were done by someone else.
She had told that she had a friend called Sneha Kumar in RVCE Comp Sci dept. There was never such a girl in that college. Some projects that she had 'done', exist, but were done by someone else... Some professors under whom she has done projects don't exist.
But she did mention some people who did exist and could be verified, including some people from my college. This person is from my college you say? I did take it into account, but this person sounded very good (technically), that I didn't think anyone from our college had so much knowledge - This person seemed like an IIT material only
I then started taking her emails out and looking at the email headers - The time that she had met with an accident in the USA, and when she was feeling weak and was managing - the email headers show that the mail originated very much from India. When she was doing an internship in Apple, she was very much in India. However, the mail from her "sister" originated from the USA.
One might say - Why didn't you suspect it when the sister gained access to her mail? Simple - One of my friends had mailed a professor earlier, but received a mail from his wife, saying that he had passed away. A similar situation was here. Either she might have shared her password with her sister (since they were close, plus she was on her death-bed) or the company might have given, since email is a very important means of communication now, and is considered as official - So, she might not want it to be left high and dry, is what I thought.
Her blog had only three entries, and mine was the only blog that was linked to it. I was the only one to have commented on it as well... nobody else
The beauty of it all, is that, from day one, when she had said that she was from IIT-B, I could have looked up and said that it was false. Or when she had mentioned her friend Sneha Kumar, I could have told that it is not true... But I didn't suspect it. Why would I go looking around for something if I didn't see anything suspicious?
But the main question continues to be only one - WHY??? She went through an awful lot of trouble to come up with things that appeared rock solid and didn't have a single loophole that would make me want to suspect her and go looking for proof. And yet, it was loaded with lies from day one... It may not even be a 'she', there could never have been a sister nor a brother-in-law, nor a nephew/niece. She may or may not be from IIT (named changed? Possible) or from MIT.
Every bit of it was made up - She never went to the US at that point, when her laptop got lost in baggage, the compensation... her room mates, her courses, her professors, Pranav Mistry, his girl friend, her lab, the accident, the drunk driver... all figments of a wonderful imagination
But why? What was the motive behind it all??? She came into my life, spent two years with me, orchestrated her own death, replied as a sister. It was the longest prank played on me, if it was a prank... But if there was an ulterior motive, what was it... Why did she do this? Why? I still wonder
Post Note Added on Oct 16th:
Comments from Buzz
Prashanth Bhat: Look at the emails again dude.. 'She' might have showed signs of motive somewhere and given it up thinking you were not that gullible... Or some person got tired of playing the prank...
Or You have spun a wonderful story.
Swathi Sharma: Too Freaky Nik!!!
vinayraj govindarajan: this is lik the 3 idiots story....except tat v hav a female version of rancho :P but nik could it hav been a try to hack ur account? its a very weird story playing with emotions and trust...
Comments from Facebook
Shobhit Ns: Moral of the story : Do not reply to mails from Pfizer.
Abhishek Kodankiry: Weird man..!!! Shit..
Nikhil Baliga: @Shobhit - See, when I spoke about a *soft*ware "tool", I was talking about computer programs... :P
@Kodankiry - I swear!!
Srivathsan Lakshmipuram: Haha of course this goes on FB! :P
Nikhil Baliga: Of course dude. This is by far the weirdest thing that's happened to me. This will serve as a warning to others to not get too cosy with strangers
Deepak Vedanthan: Yeah ..quite weird . Can't understand what the girl ..like you said .. if it was a she :) ..achieved by all this
Nikhil Baliga: I know - The more I read the conversations, the scarier it is :P There are lines like - I am feeling really lonely here, staying away from family. I do video chats regularly, but my parents are feeling low because both of us are here...!!
Chiranth Ashok: Maybe you were the subject of a novel she was writing....
Nikhil Baliga: Maybe... But it appears like she is going to end up being the subject of my novel
Madhura Basavaraju: it's as good as novel :)
Meghana Manjunath: weird man!
Nikhil Baliga: The case has been solved - I found who that person was... :P See the next post. (I feel like a complete jackass at this point of time) - The dead girl has now been demystified - Mystery solved
Nagaraj P Hegde: was about to post 'weird' :P
Now, details please :)
Mac Nirmal Lobo: Hehe...... of course u are the jackass.... So do u really know who it is or are ya waiting for that someone to post on ya wall that he/she was the real prankmaster?
Chiranth Ashok: Lol he or she is gotta be good...:D
Nagaraj P Hegde: maga C.I.D nodo abhyasa idya?? ;)