It’s maroon-coloured, slick and light. I’d lie down with it propped on my stomach like a baby as words would dribble out of its warm, white mouth. When it fell asleep, bubbles would appear on its chin and rise up to the cheeks. My little notebook with thousands of sentences spanning six months just gave up on me. I made the error of treating it like a big child, one who could take the knocks and could hit a mean punch. It obviously couldn’t; it was not born for that. It was meant to be coddled, taken in a perambulator, stuffed with a nipple in its mouth to keep it quiet and put gently to sleep to save on battery life.
I thought I was doing everything right, except that I did not treat it gently enough. It handled my jabs, my tears, my maniacal laughter, but that day it just curled up. I thought it was a petulant sulk and I poked it, tickled it…there was a gurgle, but no delight in the sound. A balloon came up: “Critical HDD error.” I did not know what HDD was. It sounded like an illness. I persevered. It rebooted many times and it was back again to nothing, although those bubbles did appear. I had not backed up the pictures, the documents, the notes…I did not know this would be over so soon, like a fling, a brief encounter. It did not appear to be this way. After all, it had been with me to protect me when I was laid up, it was there to make me not feel lost, to stand by me and renew me. But this was just another man pretending to be a child.
I should be crying. This is my work, my memories. And they are gone. For now, at least. I may never retrieve it all. But I am not crying, I am not even angry. For me this means taking more pictures, making more notes, finding newer words.
- - -
The dependence on technology frightens me. I have begun to make notes on my cellphone about every little thing. My calendar is full every day – to remind me to get what I have got, to make calls that I will not make, to sleep on time, to wake up, to read, to write…I have not yet posted one that reminds me to breathe.
It disgusts me, for I do have a keen memory. I can remember even what did not happen.
- - -
The other day I misplaced my credit card. The company said it was lost. Lost puts the onus on others; misplaced is about one’s own fault. What is the difference? There is a lost-and-found department, but not a misplaced-and-found department although in the latter case you are more likely to find it. So, I reported lost and all transactions were blocked.
Now began the problems. In order to make my life simple I had signed up for the automatic clearance of certain bills. Poof. Calls, text messages inundated me…the bills were boomeranging. My phone would be cut off. I did not bother, until it got serious. I find these cellphone companies quite funny. You have to go through the whole computerised crap till you reach your desired destination – ‘our executives are busy playing with the dog, your call is as important to us as canine biscuit, so please stay on the line’…then there will be this horribly happy tune playing and finally someone will come and announce who they are. I am unfailingly polite.
I say, “Hi, this is Cleopatra and I want to know where Egypt is”…well, you get the drift. I give them my name, my number, and whatever else they ask.
When I mention my problem, the person at the other end sounds as though a condolence is necessary. “Oh, ma’am, I am so sorry to hear about it.” Huh? Get to work, damn it.
“Can I put you on hold while I check?” Yes, please.
“Sorry to keep you on hold for so long,” says the bloke who has appeared within five seconds.
“So, what do I do now?”
“No problem, F,” (yes, they do get familiar sometimes), “Just log in to our website.”
“Just a minute. I am calling you, so you tell me what I can do.”
“You first pay at our billing centre or through online transaction or the phone, and then we will adjust the amount in the next cycle when your credit card accepts.”
“But my credit card company is ready for you.”
“Please discuss this personal matter with Mr. X who is in change of your account.”
“Is there a Mr X in charge?”
“Yes, yes, he will be happy to help.”
I dial Mr X who listens patiently. He is on the road so will solve the issue as soon as he gets to his office. “It’s all cool,” he says.
“Cool?” He really said it and told me not to worry since I am an old customer and have never reneged on any payment. I feel like a prison inmate who has been let out on bail.
Problem is almost getting solved. I send an email. One little glitch. I typed out my number wrong!
Poke, poke, poke. Little note. Reminder. Call hotline. Send email saying I am me, but my number does not have that particular digit, so do make the rectification. I am not paying for someone else.
- - -
The touch screen froze.