Nilai zanlaiah min rawn phone… oh oh oh oh oh oh oh…. Engdang mah sawi lovin…
Jesse opened his eyes wearily and reached for his phone. The incoming call ringtone resonated across his bedroom to the catchy rhythm of "Lungtat Par".
Mi bum hmang i lo ni… *click*
His voice was hoarse because he had a late night discussing with his Facebook friends about today's Lunch Meet-up.
"Good morning Jess!"
It was Cindy Ralte, also known as Cyndy Etlar on Facebook.
"Wassup Cin. I mean, Cyn." Jesse quickly corrected himself, since they all call each other by their online names.
"Phew, for a sec there, I thought you mispronounced my name." Cyndy replied.
Cyndy was an admin of the "Mizo Shoo Lovers" Facebook group, which had often been mistaken for the more popular "Mizo Shoe Lovers" group.
"So are you going to today's "All Mizo Facebook group admins" meet-up?" Cyndy asked.
"Yup," Jesse replied.
The "All Mizo Facebook group admin" group was a Facebook group consisting of all the admins of various Mizo related Facebook groups. Just as Cyndy was the admin of "Mizo Shoo Lovers" group, Jesse was the admin of "Mizo group meet-up" Facebook group.
"What about you?" Jesse asked.
"Oh, not me," Cyndy replied, "I am only a member of that admin group. Today's meeting is for the admins of the All Mizo Facebook group admins group. You're so lucky, the only reason you're an admin of that admin group is because you're the admin of a group meet-up group!"
"Jealous much?" Jesse teased jokingly.
"Get lost. Shoo shoo shoo!" Cyndy retorted and hung up the phone.
As Jesse put his phone down, he snickered at how members of the Mizo Shoo Lovers group really love to shoo away other people.
He took a quick shower and got dressed for the lunch meeting.
When Jesse reached the restaurant, Liana was already there. Liana was an admin of a Football discussion group.
"Good afternoon, Lianalex Ferguson," Jesse said, wishing him by his Facebook profile name. "Didn't you have to go to work today?"
"Afternoon to you too," replied Liana. "Ah yes, I did, and my office work for today is already done."
Jesse really envied Liana because he worked at Manchester United Die Hard Fan and he seemed to be free most of the time. Jesse wondered how much salary he must be making in a week at that place but he refrained from asking such a personal question.
"GGMU!" Liana suddenly uttered.
"Huh?" asked Jesse quizzically.
"Nothing, nothing," replied Liana while feigning a fake cough. "Force of habit…"
"Urrrmm… okay," Jesse said. The awkwardness around them was deafening.
Luckily for him, Sangi Chix arrived at the restaurant a few minutes of silence later.
"Hellooo boyyyys!" she said in a sweet melodic voice, but before Liana or Jesse could even reply, she was already busy taking selfies with her phone. After all, she's an admin of the "Mizo Instagram and Facebook model" group, and she was known to post at least 50 different selfies every day on her IG and FB accounts.
"I love this restaurant so much," she expressed while she continued taking selfies without breaking a rhythm.
"Yup, their burgers and rolls are really good," Jesse replied.
"Oh, I wasn't talking about the food," Sangi remarked as she batted her eyelashes in front of her phone's front camera. "The lighting in this restaurant goes so well with the Valencia filter."
Jesse rolled his eyes.
The next to arrive was one of Jesse's oldest friends, Mamuana, the admin of "Mizo Cycling fan" group who also went by the name "Sangboihi-pa Mamuana" on Facebook.
It had been a trend among the Mizo community to mention the name of their kid in their profile names. Like how one of Jesse's friend B.Ramhluna was known as "Mami leh Sanga-pa, sawn Michaela-pa, zep nangin Azuala-pa, hriatloh laia Rinchhani-pa, fimkhurloh vanga Kimkimi-pa, ruih em em vanga Johana-pa B.Ramhluna" on Facebook. His name was considered to be the longest Mizo profile name.
Anyway, when Jesse saw Mamuana, he cringed a bit, because he still remembered that embarrassing moment when he tried to send a message to Mamuana but instead got mixed up with the name "Sangboihi-pa Mamuana" and ended up sending the message to another Facebook friend "Mamuana-nu Sangboihi" by mistake. The fact that they were both using a picture of their kids as their profile pics made it harder for Jesse to realize his mistake.
"Shall I send it to you?" Jesse had asked the person he thought was Mamuana. He was talking about a new mountain bicycle he had purchased recently, which he had nicknamed as "Monster" because of the extra large wheels to tackle rough off-road terrain.
"Send me what?" Sangboihi replied, puzzled to receive a message from a Facebook friend she had never interacted with before. She was a single mum who was living the mingle life.
"A picture of my Monster of course!" Jesse replied obliviously. He wanted Mamuana's expert opinion on his new bicycle.
Sangboihi decided to play along because she didn't expect somebody to be so brazen, and so she replied, "Okie, send me the picture."
"But I must warn you," Jesse replied, "My Monster is hugeee!"
It was at that moment that Sangboihi immediately blocked Jesse.
Jesse never understood why he wasn't able to send any pictures of his bicycle to the contact after that because he was already blocked, until he saw screenshots of his conversations with Sangboihi posted at various Mizo Facebook groups.
"Shameless Mizo men, always assuming a woman is easy and open to casual sex if she is a single mom!" The headline screamed. And the worst part was that Jesse's FB profile name, which was "Jes de Pelican" back then, was not censored so his inbox was buzzing with activity until he had to finally deactivate his account.
All those angry mails he received for a fault he did not understand, including long lectures from relatives left a big scar on his online life.
It was only months later that he finally created a new account, this time using his real name "Jesse" as his profile name. He only added a few cousins and childhood friends initially, those who knew him well, and from the current admin list, Mamuana was the only one who knew about his faux-pas past.
Mamuana high-fived Jesse as he pulled up a chair besides him.
A few minutes later, Mafaki arrived at the restaurant. Known as "Mafaki News" on Facebook because she was the admin of three popular Mizo News group, Mafaki was the mother of all Mizo related breaking news.
"Wassup everyone!" Mafaki expressed.
"Wassup Mafaki News!" chorused back everyone.
Mafaki News beamed with pride. Little did she know that people called her "Mafaking Nuisance" behind her back, because she had this habit of posting "breaking news" on her FB groups without verifying any facts. Like that one time she published a hoax post about WWE wrestler John Cena having Mizo roots, or the other time she posted a fake news about salt becoming scarce in India, leading to a state-wide panic with people stocking up on large bags of salt.
Yes she had been criticized many times, but she still continued to post "news" without verifying any facts because she wanted to be the first one to post the news in case it happened to be true. Hence the reason why she earned that quite distasteful nick-name.
"By the way, have you guys seen the Netflix series Sacred Games?" Mamuana asked.
"I have, and it's awesome!" Jesse replied. "It's as good as Narcos. In fact, most of the plot is inspired by real life events in Mumbai. That one scene about the prostitutes, that location is close to an actual brothel where the police once rescued a couple of North Eastern girls including four Mizo girls who were falsely lured to work in Spas from Mizoram."
Suddenly, all their phones pinged in unison.
They looked at their phones to see it was a breaking news notification from one of Mafaki's news groups. The message read: "BREAKING NEWS! Four Mizo girls rescued from prostitution in Mumbai inspired the TV show Sacred Games!"
Everybody looked at Mafaki across the table.
"Oh comonnn!" Jesse protested, "That's not what I said, and you promised not to do this… news update thingie during our Meet-up!"
Mafaki grinned, "Sorry sorry."
"Somebody grab her phone away from her," joked Mamuana.
The next to arrive was Michael Dominatrix. Jesse found him really creepy, and he wasn't alone, judging from how the others were uncomfortable around him. The weird thing about Michael was that, he's an admin of both "Kristiante nun dik zirna" and "Mizo nula saruak pholanna" group, two extremely conflicting groups.
As Michael pulled his chair and sat down, he asked the others, "Hey, have you guys seen the latest leaked pictures of Manuni of Zarkawt?"
Whether the others had seen the pictures or not, they all just nodded uncomfortably.
"She's really hot, you should check it out!" Michael continued, "Anyway, now that we're all here, let us pray before we start our lunch session."
Liana raised his hands and was about to say something, but Michael had already started his prayer.
That was what Jesse never understood about Michael. He opened his eyes slyly because it felt so wrong, and noticed Liana was doing the same too. Liana looked at Jesse, shrugged his shoulders and grinned. Jesse did the same. All the others were genuinely closing their eyes as Michael prayed, except for Sangi who was still busy taking selfies, which she uploaded to her Instagram story with the hashtag - "Prayfie".
Once the prayer was over, everybody responded with an Amen.
"Weren't you about to say something?" Mamuana asked Liana.
"Oh yes, actually, all of us aren't here yet," Liana said, looking at Michael, "We're still waiting for our newest admin member Mapuii."
"That's correct," Jesse said. "We were discussing about this late last night, you didn't participate in the discussion, Michael Dominatrix."
"Oh yes, I was kinda tired, I was up late practicing a song for our KTP choir," Michael replied.
Finally, a good side of Michael, Jesse thought.
"And then I watched porn and went to sleep," continued Michael.
Arrrgh, so close, Jesse sighed as he mentally face-palmed himself.
"Anyway, speaking of last night's group discussion," Sangi spoke out, "Somebody was more excited than usual…"
Everybody looked at Jesse and grinned. Jesse blushed.
It was no secret among the admin group that Jesse had a crush on Mapuii ever since she became a part of the admin team last week. He had never met her in real life or talked to her privately, so he was quite excitedly about today's lunch.
And as if to speak of the devil, a feeble voice near the restaurant counter asked, "Urrrm… excuse me, is this the "All Mizo Facebook group admins" meet-up?"
"Yes yes of course," Liana and Mafaki answered together. "You're Mapuii right?"
"Yes," Mapuii replied, "Nice to finally meet you all in person."
Mamuana immediately got up from his seat and offered Mapuii his seat so that she would sit next to Jesse. Everybody giggled.
As Mapuii sat down, Jesse introduced himself.
"Ah, so you're Jesse," Mapuii replied, "While coming over, I realized the two of us are the only ones with our actual names as our profile names."
"I guess so," Jesse replied with a grin.
"Well, it's not like he had always been using his actual name earlier," Mamuana joked. Jesse wished he could kick Mamuana's legs under the table.
But Mapuii immediately caught the joke. "Hey you used to have a different profile name before too?" she asked Jesse excitedly.
"Urrrmmm… well… kinda," Jesse uttered.
"Me too," Mapuii replied, building a quick bond with Jesse. "I used to get trolled a lot, it was my fault for randomly accepting friend requests of people I didn't know, but now that I have created a new profile with a different name, things feel so refreshing. What was your earlier profile name, maybe we have crossed paths back then?"
Jesse hesitated a bit, "You tell me yours first, and I'll tell you mine."
"Okay…" Mapuii replied with a twinkle in her eyes, "Earlier, I was known as Mamuana-nu Sangboihi."