Open Page

Of virtual parleys in face-to-face proximity

more-in

The new order at home: messaging of a different kind in daily dealings as devices come to rule lives

For an ordinary mortal, getting an appointment with the Prime Minister is next to impossible, but the same may seem probable with the local MLA or MLC, and definitely possible with the ward corporator. Such conjectures may seem neither here nor there but the point is they pale in comparison when the issue of finding the correct time to talk to the very own husband crops up.

The day begins with a warm message of ‘good morning’ from him on WhatsApp through a picture suiting the day of the week. The image may be of a flower, scenery, god or guru. As I bump into him — busy preparing his morning dose of tea in the kitchen, whereas I am eager for my coffee — he seems to hardly notice me. Perhaps he is upset that he has to prepare his own tea — a task since his recent retirement —and I leave him discreetly to attend to my other morning chores. The sound of his placing his cup on the table is signal enough for me to enter the kitchen for preparation of my coffee.

As I come out, I see his eyes glued to the laptop screen scanning the latest news. At the same time, his cellphone curries equal favour with him, pulling him with alluring ring tones, one each for WhatsApp, SMS, current news and what not!

I settle down at my spot and boot my laptop. Even as I read a snippet of news, I suddenly remember that it is the last day to pay the property tax and I call out to him. Getting no reply, I simply reel off the reminder and turn my attention to the next snippet. It doesn’t matter to him that he had asked me to remind him of this two days ago, and like a scheduler, I had snoozed myself to give regular reminders.

As I return from my daily routine of college, I see him again staring at the laptop intent on his online trading activity. The television set too is turned on for the latest market news. I am fresh with some fun news from college, and I address him. He nods, and encouraged thus I start narrating the funny episode which had my class in splits. I finish and wait for his reaction. He exclaims, “Oh, a neat 3,000 rupees profit!” (The amount varies each day). I congratulate him and go about my domestic chores. Lunch is consumed at a hurried pace as he is excited about the fluctuations in share prices. The delicious rasam, bisibele bhath and mango syrup are consumed like tablets and tonic, and by the time I sit down for lunch after my brief prayers he is already done. I somehow have to tell him about the grocery that is needed urgently. He has already gone to his laptop and by the time I clear the table and get done with the kitchen wrap-up, it’s curtains down on trading time. I breathe a sigh of relief — but barely — as he picks up his cell phone with anticipation and excitement written over his face.

He soon enters into a sort of catatonic stupor, and before I lose it, I call out to him, and express the urgency of the grocery item. He smiles and I’m confused as I’ve only asked him to get gingelly oil for the puja lamp.

“Please get two packets,” I say, and he laugh. Disturbed by this seeming mockery I nudge him and he looks at me with a vacant expression. I realise he hasn’t heard a single word I’d uttered and give up. I message him on WhatsApp and then he replies, “Okay”.

sandhya.vasudev@gmail.com

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Open Page
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:58:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/of-virtual-parleys-in-face-to-face-proximity/article21381847.ece

Next Story