Bright Lights in the Quarantine Sky: Gautam and Annika

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This is the third part of our Bright Lights series: stories that highlight moments of human connection in a time where they seem few and far between.

For decades, the idea of soulmates has garnered its fair share of skeptics. But when we hear a story like Gautam and Annika’s, it’s hard not to be a believer.

Annika and Gautam first met on the Stanford Facebook group in December 2018, exchanging brief introductions via DMs after commenting on the same post. Nine months and two high school graduations later, the two crossed paths again in Math 61CM on the first day of Fall Quarter. Both prospective math majors, the two bonded over their shared academic passions — but quickly discovered that their similarities extended far beyond the walls of the lecture hall.

Gautam: I was gonna go to someone’s P-set party for math. But then she texted me asking, “Hey, do you wanna work on it together?” and I was like, “You know what, sure, I’ll go work on it with her.” We never ended up working on the set. We stayed up until 2am talking.

Less than two weeks into the school year, Annika and Gautam made it official.

Annika: I was super surprised by how quickly we found each other. By the second week of the quarter, we were completely inseparable.

Despite being in a relationship, Annika and Gautam filled out the Marriage Pact survey in pursuit of new friends. But to their astonishment, the algorithm (and the universe) paired them together once again — with a score of 99 percent. Talk about compatibility.

Annika: We were together when we got the email back. We both like, super freaked out. I literally remember being like, “WHAT?”

Gautam: I was in her room, and we freaked out, like “OMG, that’s so crazy.” It was pretty cool.

Annika: We screamed, and his roommate came running in from the other room. When he found out, he was like “Yeah, of course. I don’t understand how you guys like each other so much.” He’s joked with us about that kind of thing.

Gautam’s roommate wasn’t the only one to notice how in-sync the two were. When it came time for superlatives in Gautam’s freshman dorm, he was bestowed a fitting title: “Most likely to have a ring by spring.”

Annika: I thought it was funny — and a little embarrassing — that he was known for having me over all the time.

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I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way these two didn’t cheat the system. But Gautam and Annika hadn’t filled out the survey together, or even discussed their answers before sending them in. The odds are next to none that the two would end up a pair (math majors of all people would know), but it seems that love always finds a way.

Annika: I was really amazed that just by being honest on the form, we got put together.

Gautam: It was so surprising because I wasn’t particularly selecting for her. I was just putting down general things I liked in a person.

Annika: It made us feel like, wow. Even among a lot of people, we were still matched.

A new chapter of their story unfolded when COVID-19 hit Stanford’s campus. Gautam had initially planned to visit Annika and her family for spring break. But when in-person classes were cancelled, Gautam came earlier than expected — and the two have been living together ever since.

Gautam: It was never really a question of whether I would leave. I’m just here for the indefinite long run.

Annika: Honestly, it’s been really great for our relationship. I feel really lucky that it just worked out, and that I’m able to live with him during this time.

Quarantine has presented a plethora of challenges for both hopeless romantics searching for “the one” and pessimists who have given up on romance altogether. But while couples like Annika and Gautam might make us a little jealous, they also provide a glimmer of hope, reminding us that true love might not be so far-fetched after all.