Mahima, age- 42: Mahima came back from the office at 7 p.m. Today she is feeling quite relieved. She got two days off for Ganesh Chaturthi. There was a time when festivals used to mean a lot more to her- the smell of new clothes, the color of rangoli at her fingertips, the Modak from her favorite shop, the night of pandal hopping with friends and cousins. But now the festival means a break, a holiday, and some forwarded messages on WhatsApp.
Standing on the balcony with her special ginger tea, Mahima looked at the sky- the only place that remained unchanged during all this time. But, did it really? The stars look blurry now. She remembered the first time she bought a smartphone- 10 years ago. She was super excited then. She captured photos of the festival and shared them with friends and relatives who lived far from her place. ‘Aai’ called her after seeing the photo that she had sent to her brother on WhatsApp, and rebuked her for not taking care of her health. The black railing of the balcony felt a drop of tears. ‘Aai’ does not call her now. She has gone to a place where technologies could not reach yet. Has that place too remained unchanged?
Mr. Hashmi, age- 64: It was just 4 years back when Mr. Hashmi was first introduced to WhatsApp. The smartphone was a farewell gift from his colleagues. At this lonely age, he somehow enjoys the company of this device. In the lockdown, he even learned to make video calls to his friends and her daughter. Her daughter has sent him a new t-shirt from an online platform. On this Eid, he wore the new t-shirt and tried to click a selfie. Only his forehead and eyes are visible in that imperfect selfie, but if you look at those eyes you will find out that it is shining the same as it used to be 55 years ago when his ‘Abbu’ used to bring the festival gifts on this day.
Elena, age- 16: Elena is simply bored with this WhatsApp! She can’t understand why her mother asks so many questions regarding her usage of mobile. Probably her mother suspects that she has a boyfriend or someone special with whom she chats continuously. But what she doesn’t understand is why her mother is so serious about it! Having and letting go of friends are so normal these days- be it a boy, or a girl. Most of the WhatsApp messages are from different groups by different teachers. On the morning of Easter, the groups are overpouring with GIFs, stickers, and photos, all carrying the same messages in almost the same words. Elena muted those groups. Though G.D sir asked them to submit their homework via WhatsApp within the evening, Elena wants to taste disobedience just for one day. She went to the rooftop of their apartment.
A soothing breeze is touching her hair. She leaned and looked at the road. Two puppies are playing in front of a red car. She looked far away- the white steeple of the church is visible. She closed her eyes. The world seemed lonely, the world seemed beautiful.