It was a bright and sunny afternoon. The sun was blazing down in all its glory like there was no tomorrow. The air was still as if it was too afraid to move. The foliage on the sparse trees by the road stood still. Priti walked down the dusty road with sweat glistening on her forehead before they formed rivulets flowing along her temples. To say that it was hot would’ve been an understatement. Her throat was parched and her water bottle was dry as a bone. Her college was just 10 minutes away and even though she could see it as she walked towards it she wondered if it was a mirage.
After walking for what seemed like ages, she finally reached the big red and white building which served as a temporary home for the buses that plied in her city. The heat didn’t seem to have any effect at the terminal as the hustle bustle went about unabated. Buses leaving to a different area, buses leaving and arriving from a different city, all went about ignoring the afternoon heat. She went inside and sat on a bench from where she could see every bus that arrived so that she wouldn’t miss hers. The same spot every day. As always a man in his late 60’s was there with his tiny push cart where he sold cold lime juice to the commuters who arrived at the terminal. He seemed like an angel sent from above today. He wore a white kurta pajama and a white Gandhi topi. She referred to him as Gandhi grandpa in her mind. Priti had made it a habit to have one glass of juice from him every day as she waited for her bus to arrive. He prepared an ice-cold lime juice for her as usual and handed it over to her and graced her with a broad smile as she paid him. She sat on the bench, took out her phone and got herself lost in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat while she sipped on the juice slowly. Within 15 minutes her bus arrived and she got in and headed home.
Once she was home, she went straight to her room and locked herself in. Her phone was her world as she connected with her friends across the globe. She heard her 10-year-old brother knocking on her door. She shooed him away without even opening it. She didn’t have time for kiddie stuff. Honestly, she felt he was at that age where he annoyed everyone including her. After a while she came out and saw her mother in the kitchen. Her mother asked her if she was free to help her in the kitchen but she said she wasn’t as she wanted to watch her favorite show on TV. She sat down on the sofa and switched on the TV. She realized that she would save time if she had her dinner while she watched TV so she went into the kitchen, grabbed her dinner and finished it off while she watched her show. After dinner, she went back to her room. She finished her college work and went to bed. Another day had gone by.
After a year or so when Priti arrived at the bus terminal after college she found her Gandhi grandpa missing. She found it very odd since it had become somewhat of a routine for her to see him every day for more than a year now. She sat on her usual bench and didn’t give it too much of a thought. But this went on for more than a week and then somehow, she started getting worried and curious. She wondered if something bad had happened to him or worse if he was dead. He did look frail to her. Every day she would arrive at the terminal and look for him and he wouldn’t be there. For some reason, his absence pained her. That’s when she realized that the she didn’t know anything about him. His name, where he stayed, how old he was. He was actually a total stranger though she had been meeting him every day for well over a year now. She now regretted not having a conversation with him during the many opportunities that she had got. Every day she would reach the terminal hoping that he would be there and that she could just ask his name. Every day she sat on the bench ignoring her phone and wondering what had happened to the old man.
After a month or so, when she arrived at the terminal she saw Gandhi grandpa in his usual place next to her favorite spot. Priti was absolutely delighted. She felt as if she had found her long lost friend. She hopped over to him and asked why he had disappeared over the last one month. He told her that he had suffered a heart attack and had taken more than month to recover. He explained how his daughter had taken great care of him by being by his side all the time which helped him recover and now he could run his stall again. She then asked him for his name for the first time and chatted with him till her bus arrived.
Can you survive one whole day with the mobile data switched off on your phone?
— Wanton Scalpel🗡️ (@Surgyen) October 8, 2017
Priti reached home and the first thing she did was to head straight to the kitchen and give her mother a hug. Though her mother was taken aback by this sudden gesture of love which was otherwise reserved by Priti only for birthdays, she was delighted. These random acts of love were common when Priti was little but as the years went by they became scarce as friends, TV and social media took over her life. Priti then went upstairs to her room, freshened up and knocked on her brother’s door. The little brat was busy with his play station all alone in the room. She switched it off and spent her entire evening with him. She helped him with his homework, troubled him and played with him. She hadn’t realized how much fun it was and how much he had grown up. During dinner, the entire family of four including her father sat together and ate while they spoke about each other’s day. That night Priti went to sleep with a smile on her face even as the notification light on her phone beside her bed kept blinking with all the unread messages.
Authors Note: These days we are so often stuck in the virtual world that we forget to give time to the real one. Keeping in touch with 500 friends on Facebook is very good but not at the cost of the few we come in contact in real life especially our families. We have all been guilty of doing it, including me. So, for once keep your phone on silent and enjoy your life with the ones who matter the most.
The cover picture of this post is that of a very famous man who is fondly called samosa ajja by the students of St Aloysius College, Mangalore. To read more about him, click here
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.