Real People In A Virtual World

Meena a 56 year old was sitting by the window sipping coffee and looking at the vast skyline of Mumbai. She hailed from a small town and was a small town girl at heart. Her wedding had landed her in this City.

She was a lecturer in a B school and was staying alone in a plush apartment after her husband’s demise. In her busy schedule she rarely felt his absence, but there were days like these when she remembered him more.

Meena was a very social woman and she made it a point to invite her friends to share her joys, big or small, her frustrations, achievements etc. Having no life partner she realised the importance of friends. She also had a son who lived in the neighbouring colony. He and his wife were super busy making a living. They had a 5 year old son whom Meena would babysit during occasions like their anniversary, office parties, movies, etc.

Life was going OK as usual.

One day her son dropped her grandsonTanul to her place for 2 days. She enjoyed his company as there were many new things to learn and play with him. She became like a child with him and had so much of quality time for him unlike his parents who were always busy through the week. Weekends were the only days when they had some time devoted for him if there were no other social commitments.

When ever Tanul was with Meena he bloomed as a child. He laughed, shared, spoke his heart as he was completely himself. Meena would take him to the nearby park in the evening, where he played with other kids. Its not everyday that he got to play in an open space like this. This was because most of his evenings were spent in the day care where he had a restricted area to play.

Being with Meena, Tanul felt like a liberated soul. He ran in the park, jumped, played football, made new friends and on his way back home he even had coconut water. He was totally satisfied how his day unfolded. Meena too had a sense of fulfillment to make Tanul do things he looked forward to. She had the satisfaction of making someone feel contended. The same satisfaction when her husband used to praise her cooking. The look of satisfaction on his face after the meal used to make her feel proud of herself.

At night, Meena and Tanul had a good dinner with lots of laughter. After that it was story time and Tanul kept his head on her lap. While she stroked his hair and was deciding which story to tell, Tanul asked her about the incidents when he was a toddler. He loved to listen to his funny toddler stories again and again. Suddenly he asked about the childhood stories of his Dad to her. Meena’s mind took her 25 years back, a time when childhood was different.

Back then in summer vacations, Meena used to take her son to her parents place in a small town. There the breeze was fresher, vegetables straight from the farm, warmth of neighbours, pampering by aunts, gifts by uncles, and delicious food by her mom. Everything was so perfect. Her son often had ample cousins to play with and there were nights spent on the terrace having late night conversations, early morning walks, playing on the ground etc. Summer vacations for kids passed so quickly that it never felt satisfactory. Childhood days 30 years back were very different. Lots of outdoor play, lots of cousins, lots of friends, no gadgets, no cartoons. Just real games with real people.

Tanul heard her every word carefully. He pictured himself doing those things, but in reality his world was very different. He had expensive toys, video games, one or two good friends where he went for play dates for limited time, many extra curricular classes, planned activities in restricted areas and loads of screen time. What ever Meena narrated about his father’s childhood seemed to be a dream world for him.

Meena realised how Tanul felt after listening to this, after all which child would not like to play outdoors with umteen playmates for unlimited time? He longed for some one to play with whom he could share his toys, he longed for some one to talk to, he longed for his parents uninterrupted attention, he longed for some one who would let him be and not put too many boundaries, he longed for a heart to heart discussion, he longed for some one who could accommodate his tantrums when he felt down and not brush his needs under the carpet. He longed for a real human bond in this technological emotionless world.

Meena looked at Tanul, who was now peacefully sleeping on her lap. A sense of security and comfort reflected on his face.

Some where in the corner of her heart she could feel the same longing, the same emotion that this child on her lap felt .

For the first time after her husband’s death she confronted her emotions. For the first time after his demise she uncovered her mask of being social and got in touch with her real lonely self, for the very first time she realised that momentarily friends make her feel happy but after that she is all by herself again. She too like Tanul, longed for real human touch in this technology filled world, longed for a hearty discussion with her son with no intervention from the virtual world, longed for some one at home with whom she could have dinner every night.

Today, with Tanul she was able to do all this.

That night like Tanul, her face too reflected comfort.:-)

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