Finally, the silver coloured thing has given way. The one, that I fondly call as my “dabba” [a boxy stuff], has gone kaput. There are a few small pieces that have broken away from the hinges. A large crack runs across the body and another huge chunk is clinging desperately to the corner of the hinge. The LCD itself is wobbly and refuses to stand at 90 degrees angle. The saving grace, however, is the keyboard, which seems intact as of now. A few wires show themselves from somewhere between the keyboard and the screen. The brand name is still faintly visible and the one thing that displays a laptop’s working is staring at me blankly. No display whatsoever. Simple plain black screen. The story that I was typing has died along with it.
The particular laptop is unlike any other. For one, the keyboard has a mind of its own. Whenever I use it, the letters that I intend to see on screen, refuse to do so and a different alphabet/character stares at me. But, over time, I have found a way to work around that and I learnt to type seamlessly.
Then, there is this conversation I have with my “dabba”. My laptop comes with its own set of noises. Even as I work, they ring in, with a ding, a ping and make an array of other cute little sounds. These sounds have now become so much a part of my workspace, that, quietness is a bit unnerving. Now, when there is a ping, I swing into action — no sweat whatsoever.
Finally, “my dabba”, famously has no antivirus! While a whole generation of laptops claimed to have been equipped with the latest versions, mine, stayed put — aloof and different — fighting the battles with its inbuilt strength. Yes, it would shutdown whenever it pleased, but, that is how it dealt with aliens invading its working. I prided over it but, today, even as the lights glow and announce some working parts in the warm insides, the visuals are missing. A part of the laptop has decided — it is time.
I watch in disbelief. Why, I love this thing is not beyond me. It was on one cold winter evening that I had welcomed this gadget home. My husband and my little boy, had gone out and brought home this thing — a surprise. When, I had gently opened the screen, the three of us had preened into the blank space together. It was then, that my little boy had stuck out his chubby fingers and had taken our picture together. This family picture had become my home-screen.
Day after day, when, the laptop whirred into life, the picture would smile open my day into the digital world. I would look at it for a few seconds before I embark on my digital journey.
We looked great in the picture — our younger selves, our smiles intact blissfully unaware of what the future held.
A few days after my laptop arrived, my doctor announced my grand entry into the world of the dreaded disease.
That picture, my illness and my laptop are three distinct things, that have seamlessly connected my past life to my present. They represent a moment of pure bliss — a moment I will never be able to recreate.
I decide to toggle for one last time to revive “my dabba”. The very thought of not being able to see the picture again drives me crazy. I want to hold on to that moment. I want to hold on to that past. I want my dabba back. I bolster some pillow behind to hold on to the screen and then, desperately give one last push at all the buttons. I wait anxiously for well over 15 minutes. Nothing. I sigh and smile wryly. My eyes fall on the little chequered thing — a black and white cellophane tape that I had stuck on the camera — to prevent spying. I laugh aloud. Our picture was the only picture the laptop camera had ever captured after which, the thing went around with a plastered tape over it!
I guess, sometimes, the old has to give way to the new. I guess, the old picture held an important part of myself. Perhaps, it is time to get a new laptop and just maybe, it is time to capture another new picture. I close my “dabba” and run my hand over it. I decide to let go because, it is time! And, I hope and pray, there will be many more such moments and pictures in the future.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman.