Maan: “That’s my favorite color!”
Well, obviously it was his favourite color. He picked red wallpapers for me all the time, even though it sort of ticked me off. But then I like to see him happy. If scarlet keeps him happy (be it the color or the actor), I was ready to tolerate as many shades of it as he wanted me to wear.
“There are plenty of similarities between us!” came Tanya’s words followed by a wink.
Lately, Maan had started spending too much time with this woman, who looked pretty glamorous, I must say, much more than the previous ones he had been with. Thinking of all the other women he had dated made me cringe a little with unease. But I didn’t mind much, as long as he stayed with me. And that he did, every single day without fail, for more than twelve hours at a time. Sometimes, he demanded so much from me that I would grow a fever and then he would help me cool down. When I grew tired, he would lift me up powerfully and seat me more comfortably, feeding me while he worked. I would feel rejuvenated and recharged soon enough and we would plunge into the work together.
His parents would often object and warn him to stay away from me but he was steadfast in his devotion and love. We would work together and watch movies together. He would talk to his girlfriends also but I would always be there as a silent spectator. He knew and understood every wire of my being and I understood his. Whenever he felt low, I would switch on some nice soothing songs and he would plug in his headsets, which would hurt me a little but I hardly cared. The expression on his face was one to die for. I would slog for him till the last percent of my energy.
On some days, he would put me to sleep for hours while he bathed and had his meals. On others, I would be awake, running his processes, even as he slept. When he was too overworked, he would slump onto my lap, unaware of his own exhaustion and I would keep him as warm and comfortable as I could. Sometimes, I would go to sleep along with him. I wondered at times if he really loved all those women he went out with? Mostly, he would share everything with me. But sometimes, he would go off on his own, without a care or a thought for me. On such days, I would become rigid and unyielding. I wouldn’t start, however importunately anyone insisted.
Maan and I had discovered many new worlds together. I had taught him to shop for the first time. He had wanted to buy a saree for his mother. I took him through endless stores, suggested to him endless colors and finally he settled on a lime-green silk with an embroidered border. Needless to say, his mother loved it. But these days, instead of watching TV shows or movies that I had downloaded for him, he would choose to talk to that so-called dainty damsel- Tanya. Their endless conversations and sweet nothings would pain me no end. But I persevered. This was just another woman, I thought.
Well, Maan and I went back years. I still reminisce fondly that day when he had landed in one of the best colleges and his father had gifted him with…yes…me. Maan had always wanted me. When I was brought into the house, there was a hush and a lot of secrecy. It was his birthday and I was to be his gift. His long-awaited gift. There was a cake, candles and an array of delicacies decorated on the table. I was stowed away in a separate room, festooned with gold and silver streamers. I waited impatiently to be shown to him.
After the cake cutting ceremony, the effusive wishing and the unlimited cheers and laughter, finally arrived my turn. As his father handed me to him, he squealed with delight. It was love at first sight. He looked at me, his face reflected in mine. His features lit up, his excitement knew no bounds. We spent that night together. He didn’t allow anyone near me. Over the next few days, he had pushed many wrong buttons of mine. Eventually though, he got the hang of me and we got attuned to each other’s moods. I no longer rebuffed him or went to sleep when he had some work and he learnt to be less rough with me. He realized that care and attention would go a long way in maintaining our relationship. He had started taking me in his lap and I would be happily nestled in the haunches of my handsome Maan.
I prized the fact that he let very few people touch me. He liked to take care of me in his own way; he would sprinkle me with some lubricant and wipe me with a dry cloth and though it would tickle me and make me laugh, I would sit quiet and proud. Very soon, we were inseparable.
The bell trilled. Whether it was the irregular ringing of the bell (a different sound from what the residents usually made) or Maan’s eager yelp and leap out of the bed, I can’t say but I instantly knew and perceived it as a bad omen. I was not much mistaken. Dressed in a deep sanguinary shade, Tanya looked, I must admit, ravishing, making my glassy crimson hue appear pale in comparison. Her lips had been painted a luscious red and she came and sat down on the bed beside Maan.
On the bed! How could he allow this? It didn’t matter if his parents sat on the bed, even though he expressed irritation whenever they stayed too long, saying he had work even though all he would do is watch a movie with me (which obviously made me very happy). But this woman? No woman had ever met him in flesh and blood. In fact, as per his wishes, I had helped him meet all sorts of women. I had helped him talk, suggested him words, corrected his spellings and now he had outgrown me and invited this abominable piece of halfwit home! The bed had been ours; only the two of us had shared it for so long. All through his college, right up to his job. And now, this witch had come to cast a nasty spell on my beloved. I simply couldn’t let that happen. My temper reached boiling point and my insides seethed. Maan apparently understood and took me in his arms.
‘There! You witch! Look! He takes me in his arms!’ I wanted to shout at her. Just then, he put me down on the nearby table. He had removed me from my throne! My bed! What unearthly spell had this woman cast on my dear Maan?! They spent the entire day together, chatting and laughing, ignoring me completely. At long last, when the light of the day had vanished outside the window, she got up to leave.
“Finally! She is leaving!” I breathed to myself. But Maan apparently had other plans.
“Come on, stay on a bit longer. I will drop you…” he insisted. My core would have burst into a million chips if he had said another word. But gladly, he didn’t. She left and I saw him meander about a bit, fetching some snacks and finally settling down to talk to me. I had cooled down by then. I could hardly help it. His eyes staring into mine calmed me and I forgot all my earlier ire at his behavior. I was back to listening to him and ready to show him my latest music and movie downloads when…
“Heyy darling…” a face popped up. Maan’s countenance cheered up significantly. Although I was glad to see him happy, I was far from it when I espied the source. Tanya had come to haunt his virtual life as well. Well, they had started their relationship online…so this was not so unexpected. Nevertheless, it caused the connections within me tighten in envy. He spent the entire night talking to her and writing XOXO unlimitedly. In the process of converting his keystrokes, I desperately wanted to replace his kisses with punches and his hugs with fiery emoticons. Sometimes I tried it too, eliciting a shocked reaction from her.
“Sorry! That was a typo!” Maan covered it up with ease. Anyway, I wasn’t made to interfere with my inner workings.
So, I wrote helplessly and sent endless messages. And then before I knew it, he had changed the wallpaper. He had pasted her horrible picture all over my face. I felt like taking off the Tanya-styled mask he had given me and replacing it with a nice red clear complexion that he always liked. But Maan didn’t show any signs of changing the wallpaper.
My body turned feverish, I was seriously ill and weak. My energy was lower than 10% and I flashed a red signal, hoping that he would see it. But he was oblivious to such things now. At one point of time, he would never let my energy flag below 60%. He kept me nourished at all times. But now, he worked me ruthlessly, hitting my keys with wild and crude abandon. I was balanced on his chest, so close to him and yet so far. All he cared about was for the one at the other end of the Great Wall.
From that night onwards, we spent more time than we had ever spent before. But it was a time entirely devoid of me; there were no intimate activities, no movies together, no casual browsing through my features, only Tanya’s face covering every inch of mine.
There was once a time when he loved to explore my depths. My mystery enthralled him and he would sit for hours on end, trying this or that, sending me one message or another. We spent so much time together, conversing in a black world in white letters. It took him some time to learn my language but he was a sharp chap. And I helped him with all my available memory and power. When he went wrong, I would supply him with hints on how to go about things. He made many mistakes initially. Misspellings, wrong commands, stupid questions. But I was patient. For every mistake, my stern yet constant and somewhat kind response would be: “Wrong command. Try again.” After stumbling a hundred times was he able to discern the first correct step. I helped him search for the solutions and he applied them on me. Sometimes, they would backfire and he would shut me out. But he was tireless. He would start again and we would try again together to communicate. After many such hits and trials, tutorials and manuals, he succeeded in uncloaking all my mysteries.
Now, his fingers would slide over me with ease, giving commands and getting his work done. His love for me was palpable and patent. It was hard to match it. At one point, it bordered on addiction as his parents complained. I had no complaints though. Our lives had blended beautifully.
But nothing lasts forever, not even well-coded programs. And so, his other side started taking hold of him, he started searching for women, talking and befriending them. At first, I was obliging and would gladly navigate to such sites but after the episode with Tanya when I saw him drift away from me, I tried to stop him, to allure him away by presenting him with advertisements of shoes, phones and such appurtenances.
“Oh these damned ads again!” he screamed and closed every one of them. Nothing, not even a video game could restrain him now. All he wanted was that wretched witch.
Within the next few months, everything took a turn for the worse. I was bedecked with photographs. Endless photos of the two of them in traditional attire, garlanded and grinning like idiotic apes. One such picture was selected as the wallpaper to cover my face, which he no longer felt like seeing these days. Soon, the bride had come to live with him. In the very room where we had lived for so many years! I was closed and placed neatly but sternly in a corner for many days. I preferred to keep my head down lest I should be too disturbed by the events of the room.
After a few weeks which seemed to me like ages, I was called for service again. Even though I was dreadfully hurt and madly cross with Maan, I didn’t have the heart to deny him my services when he came to me after such a long time. I enjoyed his sweet sure tapping and his careful usage of my keys. And then came the worst part.
“I have to go for some work, love, I will be back in an hour or so. You can watch something if you like.”
Maan’s words cut through my processor like nothing had before. How could he? I would never deign to serve this witch. I would not have her touch my smooth glassy face or my neatly labelled keys.
“Okay dear” came Tanya’s reply and to my horror, she started fiddling about with my keys, pushing them and pressing them unnecessarily even where less force would have sufficed. But I too was determined to thwart her. She clicked on a movie (Maan’s favourite and hence, my favorite as well). I bore down on her with all my strength.
“This version of VLC media player cannot be played…” I displayed a fiery orange dialog box that refused to leave the screen.
‘There you go! Now try watching the movie!’ I said to her in my CPU. She got sick of me after a while and had to shut me down. I had never before been so badly manhandled. I so wished that Maan would come back.
A year passed and things finally started turning in my favor. Tanya had started throwing tantrums. She demanded too much and was a constant grumbler. The first fit that Maan had was when she spilled nail paint onto some of my keys, thus putting them out of use for a good number of days. So furious was he that he didn’t let her touch me for many weeks after that. I was delighted. My spirit was finally returning.
“I have been given a new project and will need to work till late, so don’t wait up for me…” Maan called up Tanya and explained the situation to her.
No words could be sweeter to me. The wallpaper had changed back to his favorite plain crimson. Finally, I had him to myself. We were together again-Maan and I, his beloved laptop.