My computer is like a whimsical child who is out to act difficult. It just would not get started for the past one week despite having called a service engineer who addressed the problem and rebooted it thrice in my presence and the next morning the problem persisted. It is purely by chance that I managed to start it today so here I am quickly typing out my thoughts hoping that it won’t conk off again before I finish. I wonder how life was before I learnt to use the computer. I remember the time when my daughter spoke of a colleague snatching the mouse from her and I almost shrieked at the thought of my daughter holding a live mouse in her hand and the colleague snatching it from her. That was nearly 10 years back and I only knew that a mouse was a yucky rodent that had better be out of my sight. Today, I have become like a spoilt child and cannot write a complete sentence legibly using pen and paper. I type with one hand with my eyes on the key board. Yet I prefer computer typing to using pen and paper. I wonder how I dealt with the lengthy 4 hour examinations during my masters. I think I’ll get myself a cursive English handwriting book and practice writing along with my grand children.
And what about letter writing that was considered an art when I was growing up? I remember arriving at the Steel city some 38 years back and the only available mode of communication with my folks was through letters. I’d wait eagerly for letters from my mother and reply almost immediately. The practice continued when my daughter went to college. By the time my son went to college we got a telephone at home and it was adieu to a practice that I had cultivated since the age of twelve when I first went to a boarding school. Now with mobile phones available one does not even have to remember telephone numbers! Connectivity has improved but there are times when I wonder if there is a negative side to this privilege. Take for example the case of a girl known to me-
A…. was a friend’s daughter. She got married soon after she graduated and was hardly prepared to deal with the responsibilities associated with marriage and married life. As it happens with most of us she too tried to see her mother in her mother in law and was naturally disappointed. But she had the facility of talking to her mother from the privacy of her bed room and would invariably ring her up every night briefing her about every problem she faced. Unable to help the daughter living in far off Bangalore, the mother would cry herself to sleep wake up the next morning with a headache and worry herself sick about what may or may not be happening in her daughter’s life. If I compare my own life with hers, I have to admit that I too faced teething trouble in the initial months of my marriage. But I’d be careful about what I actually wrote. That I would not want to trouble my mother who had enough to deal with even without having to worry about me was one reason the other being that a written document could always fall into other people’s hand unlike a personal conversation. With time, adjustments were made and I learnt to regard my acquired parents with respect for the kind of people they were instead of comparing them with my own parents. I wonder if such maturity in my approach could have been possible if I had the privilege of talking to my mother over the phone on a daily basis. A mother’s reaction tends to be biased and it is perhaps better to deal with a new set up on one’s own unless of course it is a really unbearable one.
Here again I can almost hear my young readers ask me as to what exactly qualifies to be an unbearable situation? I really have no answer. So I think I’ll end with a story I like to repeat.
A woman would deliberately leave for the temple soon after her son arrived from office since she wanted her son to bond with his newly wed wife. She remembered the time when as a young bride she had longed for a few private moments with her husband and her own mother in law would keep him engaged in meaningless conversation on his return from work. She was therefore surprised to hear her daughter in law complain to a friend that her mother in law seemed to be a work shirker with no real affection for her son.
“It looks as if she was waiting for me to arrive. The moment Anil arrives from office she goes off to the temple. I have to slog in the kitchen preparing tea and snacks and she deliberately returns after all the work is done. I wonder if he ever got to eat a decent meal before I arrived. Poor boy…….”
Having said this I’d like to add, at the cost of sounding hypocritical, that I too use the mobile, computer and all the facilities that the 21st century offers. I’ll be turning sixty soon and I have to behave like one. What better way to begin than by comparing my times with yours??