I am quite indifferent when it comes to technology. I do not care what brand of TV we have at home, or if we possess the best quality Home Theater System or not (although, apparently, we are quite close, or so husband says). That is also why I have always had the cheapest cell phones, just a passable cordless, and no i-pads, tabs, digicams, DVD players etc. And there is a reason behind this: I believe spending money on expensive gadgets is a waste. It is after all only a machine with a fixed lifespan, and, the minute you buy it, its value begins to depreciate — much like a car, which also I don’t quite care about.
The only exception to this was my laptop. A beautiful white MacBook that had come to me 8 years ago. It was a present from my husband and something that I had been resisting for years. I still remember that evening vividly when husband had handed the machine over to me. I remember opening it in the dining room of our beautiful, airy, Bangalore home. I can still feel the smoothness of its case, and the crispness of the butter-paper over the pristine white keys. The track-pad that moved like butter, the keys that were soft like cheese, and the display that was crystal clear. But most of all I remember the happiness it had filled me with.
In retrospect these expressions may seem superlative, a little over the top even, but at the time, when I used a dilapidated, almost dead lenovo, whose keys were coming off and battery was dead, the delight to see something so beautiful was unparalleled.
This machine soon became my alter ego and remained my most trusted friend ever since. It saw me struggle through long, sleepless nights when I was carrying my little one in my tummy, it helped me fight loneliness and anxiety when I was carrying darkness in my heart. It kept me company when everyone else was either too busy or too tired for me. And yes, it also did the usual stuff that laptops do like helping me work better, listen to good music, watch good movies, and entertain my kids.
It was on this machine that I turned into a writer too. Also on a sleepless night in Bangalore while introspecting the reason and purpose of my existence. And then in Delhi, where night after night I would turn to its warm glow to remove some gloom from my soul. During the hardest times, it was my laptop that I would turn to, and it always showed me a way out.
There is one more thing it did. It spoilt me. No, actually, it ruined me. I had, as they say, become a MacBook snob.
For the past many months though, owing to my incessant use and my children’s periodical abuse, the machine had started to get moody: it had become slow, it would not charge, its battery was as good as dead. I knew I had to fix it but I never found the time: there was always something more important to do. And now, that I wanted it to work, it wouldn’t. It was also too old and outdated for the service centers to fix it, and too precious for me to take it to some shanty. To keep my life running, I bought a new one.
With the arrival of its rich cousin, my old friend got sidelined. It remained the old, loyal friend who plays no active part in your life, and yet is important. But I could not let it die. I had to finally get it to a shanty where took a few thousand rupees and a few days for it to be running. I was elated. The kids were overjoyed. But in just a few months it started acting up again. I fixed it again, but it was back to square one in a matter of days. And so, it lay dead in my cupboard for the past few months.
Yesterday, I finally took it to the shanty again, 25 kilometers from home, in an auto, in a hope to revive it.
I spent the whole day standing in front of a 4′ x 6′ shop staring at the 20 something boy who kept fiddling with it. I saw its entrails being taken out, I noticed the dust and grime inside it (despite all the care I took of it), I experienced how difficult it had become to maintain it. I ran from shop to shop trying to find a battery that works, and a charger that will not give up in three months. I was told that I was lucky if the spares last even a year when new machines are dying in a matter of months (who is making such machines, I wonder), but I finally did find the spares. And even though it meant shelling a hefty sum to restore it, I was ready to do that. Then something happened. Just as I was ready to pick it, I realized, the click button had stopped working. And so began another long wait.
But even as the boy sat cooped up in his hole with my machine doing his best to make it work, something snapped in me. Standing there teary eyed, looking at the old but dear friend being torn out yet again, it occurred to me that its time may have finally come. That maybe, just maybe, I have to let it go. It took me a lot of courage, but I eventually walked out of the shop, leaving the machine behind.
Since last evening, I have been thinking only about it. On one hand I am feeling terribly guilty to have left it, on the other I know there is no point spending more and more resources on a dead commodity. My head says I should leave where it is and if someone needs it, he/she will use it, but my heart says I should fix it and get it back.. you do not give up on old friends do you?
Who do I listen to is something I do not know.