As you like it
by Stuti Pandey
As Vishnu wrote his resolution for the year, his eyes twinkled with the light of a million stars. ‘Instagram par viral hona hai’ – it read.
He slammed the diary shut, as he repeated the chant – “Viral hona hai toh hona hai.”
His younger brother flashed an impish grin, as he saw Vishnu walk out of the doorway of their one room house in the Sundergarh village of Chattisgarh, towards their small piece of agricultural land.
Som knew of Vishnu’s crazy antics. But nothing could have surpassed his obsession with going viral on Instagram. “Bhaiyya ko sambhalo amma, varna viral hone ke chakkar mein barbaad kar denge“, he would often advise his mother.
And obsession it was which saw Vishnu make video after video and upload on Instagram to go viral. He had tried jumping from the roof of his house, imitated the sounds that bulls made, thrown knives at a target while blindfolded and learnt card tricks. But nothing clicked.
His cousin Meena had put up a video of her dancing to ‘Fevicol Se’ and that had gone viral (at least in Sundergarh) and she was not even a good dancer. And here was Vishnu, so often called extraordinary and talented by his peers, getting zero traction.
Vishnu knew that his friends and his brother thought that he was crazy for wanting to become famous by going viral on Instagram. What they didn’t know was that he wasn’t just wanting to go viral to become famous, what he really wanted was his idol Ishani Gupta – the popular Bollywood celebrity – to watch his videos and comment.
They would then soon discover how much they had in common (love for nature and animals) and fall in love and get married. If only his videos would go viral. Months went by but nothing that Vishnu did worked. But something had to. Vishnu just needed a breakthrough!
Vishnu sat daydreaming by the parched piece of land . The monsoon was delayed and Vishnu’s family had no other source of water. They sat waiting for the rain gods to bless them with bountiful rain.
Som came over. ”Bhai chalo medhak medhaki ki shaadi ho rahi hai. Amma ne bola hai aashirwaad le lo, Baarish acchi hogi.”
Visnhu brushed off Som. He was in no mood to watch this mundane annual ritual of the village where frogs were married off to appease the rain gods. He was scrolling through Ishani’s IG feed and nothing could distract him. Ishani looked gorgeous in her latest post on Instagram. She was standing next to a frog on a tree in the Amazonian rainforest.
The caption read – ‘Mr Froggie. My Prince Charming’.
Vishnu came out of his reverie. Ishani loved frogs, he would upload a video of the frogs getting married in his village and Ishani would love him for it. This was his breakthrough moment. The Gods had been very kind.
Vishnu scrambled towards the wedding venue. His whole focus was on making the best video of his life. The frogs decked up in bridal finery were basking in the glory of all the attention being showered on them, as pandits chanted mantras and villagers sat in rapt attention.
Vishnu quickly uploaded the video and tagged Ishani Gupta . He waited for the familiar ping from his phone to let him know that his posts were being liked.
The pings didn’t stop for the next half an hour. Millions of people were liking and commenting. The video was officially viral. His brothers and friends were congratulating him but there was still no comment from Ishani!
Vishnu went to bed forlorn. He really didn’t know what would get Ishani’s attention. His mother was right, this Instagram was really a waste of time and he would uninstall it the first thing in the morning
The next morning, Vishnu was woken up by a hurried, rude knock on the door. On the door was the local sub-inspector, ready to arrest Vishnu for cruelty against animals. Ishani Gupta – popular Bollywood celebrity and Ambassador PETA India -had filed a case against Vishnu Kumar for torturing animals for general entertainment.
Vishnu slumped in the doorway as his mother’s wails rent the air.
This story was written during Rashmi Bansal’s Short Story Writing workshop.