“Not just one or two, full 30 minutes.”
“Poor child. Must have been such a shock.”
“Traumatic, I tell you. Now she is just not sure of herself. What if it goes again. I mean, how can you be sure.”
“I know. Nowadays, there are such few things you can be sure about. And if this too goes ….”
I look up from the book I am trying to read. The subject is a little girl. One of the women has an arm around her, protectively. The girl is holding a mobile phone. She looks dazed. Her thumbs are poised to text but do not move.
We are all in the waiting room of the counselor. He had asked me to help him create his website. The first cut is ready in my laptop, resting against my leg.
“It is so important these days. How can they even allow it to go off? And they talk of advanced technology.”
“I know. Her papa also can’t be without it. One day you know what happened. He forgot to take it with him into the bathroom. There was no one else at home. So he came out dripping wet and got it from the dining table where he had just finished breakfast with it.”
“My family is also like that only. Breakfast, lunch or dinner we never miss it.”
“…and then while getting back into the bathroom he slipped and fell. Fortunately, he just broke his hand. The phone was safe. He did not drop it.”
Another woman walks into the room, almost dragging a boy behind her. He looks to be almost the same age as the girl. He stops resisting when he sees the others in the room. He shakes his hand free and walks around the room, exploring.
Apparently, the newcomer is known to the others.
“Oh hello! Long time. How come?”
“I had gone to the village. This (was there a touch of disdain when she glanced at the boy?) is my husband’s brother’s son. He is spending the holidays with us.”
“That’s good.” In a whisper, “something wrong with him?”
The boy is busy examining the artificial plant in the corner. He is fascinated by the strange plant growing without soil.
“He is not very normal, you know. That day, he was alone at home with my Sonu. My baba was simply playing with his tab and this fellow kept troubling him to play with him. So Sonu gave him Papa’s old mobile. This fellow picked up all the old mobiles which were there in the drawer, lined them up, snatched Sonu’s tab and started pushing them on the table.”
“Like a train?”
“Maybe. He told Sonu to whistle. Like some steam engine. How will Sonu know that? For full half hour he did not let Sonu play with his tab.”
“Sonu didn’t keep quiet. He screamed.”
“Did the neighbors come to help him?”
“Actually, no. We moved to this new house only three years ago, no. So we do not know anyone.”
“Good you brought him here. Best to get professional help.”
“Inside the house is OK. He is worse outside. He plays with stones. He even climbs trees in the park. So embarrassing.”
Just then the bell rings. My turn to see the counselor.
The last time we met, he had wanted his website to warn people about how we were getting attached to machines and getting detached from people. This time he appears to be too rushed to talk or even see what I had done.
“Can you set up my FB page? Just put some videos. Senti or funny. It must be viral. Then some quotes. I will give you photos of my last party. I will get 100 likes for each. Put in some jokes also. Lol stuff,” he said.
“Sir…the website? I have your message about technology and humanity on the home page.”
“No, no website. Just the FB page. Put that message too. Sounds good. Will get lots of shares. Tell me when you are ready,” he pushes me out.
In the bus back home I reach for my book. Then I stop. Instead, I pull out my phone. High time to close the book and face reality.