Paul Dixit was a compulsive addict. His addiction - mobile phones, especially smart phones. He spent a considerable chunk of his monthly salary buying the latest mobile phones. His wife Devi, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. She too had a mobile phone, but only by compulsion. At Paul’s coercion, she too had bought a smart phone. It was an Apple iPhone 5s. Though everyone she met went gaga over the phone, it did not tickle Devi’s fancy at all. According to her, a phone only needed a few features - Make phone calls, send short messages and occasionally set the alarm. Anything beyond that was an unnecessary facet, and she just did not care. But when Paul insisted on getting her the very latest in smartphones, she dropped her standards, and let him get her a state-of-the-art phone. The trouble now, was that she had no idea of how to go about using this piece of junk. And to make matters worse, the sim card was a different one. She had tried to fit the new sim card into her old phone, and it just slid through and rattled about in the slot.When he “gifted” her the phone, Paul had promised to spend some time over the weekend helping her get accustomed to the new phone. However in typical Paul fashion, come Saturday morning, he was suddenly required in Frankfurt, and he left on the very next flight. This left Devi in quite a pickle, since she did not have a clue with regards to using this shiny new equipment. Since Devi was predominantly home during the weekend, she could continue to use the land phone. "The real problem would be on Monday morning, when I get to work", she thought. "Hopefully someone at work can help me with it." Monday mornings were a nightmarish affair for Devi. It always had been, and this particular Monday morning was no different. To make matters a bit more complicated, their son’s nanny had pulled a sickie, which meant eight year old Arnav was alone at home. Though Devi’s neighbour, Mrs. Jain, had promised to pop-by, every hour or so, Devi knew that she shouldn’t have left him alone. But with her boss breathing down her neck demanding a finalised projection report before lunch time, she had no other alternative but to go to work, at least for a few hours till she got the report sorted. “I’ll just keep calling Arnav every hour to make sure he is alright” she thought. She had asked their friendly security guy, Ramu kaka, to keep an eye on Arnav as well. As Monday morning wore on, Devi found herself drowning under the workload. Things got worse when her Managing Director, Mr. Tiwari, called for an impromptu all-hands-on-deck meeting in the board room, during lunch. She checked the time on her watch. It was 1:15 pm. As she walked into the meeting, she wondered if Arnav would have had lunch. The meeting room was packed and she noted that everyone, except Mr. Tiwari was present. “I’ll just make a quick phone call before he gets here” thought Devi, and took out her phone. She glanced at the screen of her new phone, unsure what to do next. For the love of god, she couldn’t find a phone icon. And this god-forsaken item did not have many buttons either, much less anything that resembled a phone symbol. As she sat there fiddling with the side-buttons of her phone, Devi failed to notice Mr. Tiwari enter the room. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Tiwari did see her playing with the phone. “Ah, the new iPhone I see, Devi. Looks like we’re paying you too much again!” he exclaimed loudly, from across the room. Embarrassed, Devi put the phone away into the depths of her handbag. “Why am I worried?” she thought. “Our numbers are programmed into the landline unit’s speed dial. Arnav will call us if there was anything urgent." As the meeting dragged on, Devi could feel her eyes start to get heavy. Suddenly she heard a distant buzzing. It sounded like a very large mosquito, a few meters away from her ear. She glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. Nobody else had seemed to notice it. She dismissed it nonchalantly. The buzzing continued, and Devi just tuned it out. Ten minutes later, when the meeting finally ended, Devi jumped up from her chair. She decided that it was high time she checked up on her son. As she carefully dug her phone out from the abyss of her hand bag, she noticed that the screen was already lit up. 38 missed calls, said the message on the screen. All from a private number. At first she panicked. Then slowly her sensible part prevailed and she decided to check it out in detail. She somehow managed to unlock the screen and clicked on the icon which had the number 38 superscripted in bold, red font on it. She looked at the time of the first call. It was at 1:50pm. The last call from the number was at 2 pm, a few minutes back. 38 missed calls in 10 mins! She wondered what was going on. Something was wrong. She immediately dialled the home number to check on Arnav. There was no answer. She tried the number again. The result was the same. No answer. She could feel trickles of sweat starting to build up on her forehead, inspite of the air conditioning running on full blast. She dialled Mrs. Jain’s number. She answered on the first ring. Talking to Mrs. Jain, Devi felt like she was having a panic attack. Apparently Mrs. Jain had to leave the building to post an urgent letter, and she had just returned. On her way back, she had stopped by Devi’s apartment to check on Arnav. But inspite of ringing the door bell numerous times, she did not get an answer. She had just stopped by her own flat to get the spare keys to Devi’s, when the phone rang. On Devi’s request, Mrs. Jain opened up their flat and checked it thoroughly. Arnav was no where to be found. Arnav was missing! Devi felt the brand new iPhone slip from her hand and hit the floor with a resonating crash. Almost immediately a series of “WHY” enveloped her thoughts:
I intend no offence against any tele-callers who may be reading this, or any of you who may know someone who have been unfortunate enough to do the job, or if you have previously done the tele-marketing/caller role. It too is a job that pays the bills.
For those of you who were wondering what happened to Arnav, he is safe and sound. Paul returned early from Frankfurt, and he was surprised to find Arnav home alone. So he took him out to McDonalds for a nice meal and some much needed father-son bonding time. As for Devi's phone not ringing, remember the time when she was fiddling with the side buttons of her phone in the meeting room? She inadvertently slid the button on the side which put the phone into vibrate mode.