‘That’s it. I have had ENOUGH!’ I yelled loud enough for everyone to hear.

They stopped in their tracks. I mean literally. Well, what else do you expect when a telephone speaks up, huh? 

Granny rubbed her eyes. Grandpa tittered. Sohil’s face imitated a goldfish. Father and Mother looked at me, then at each other and back at me. 

‘Y…you can talk?’ Granny stammered.

‘Of course, I can. Just because I listen all the time, that doesn’t mean I can’t speak,’ I glowered, offended.

‘But phones can’t talk. They’re inanimate. Our teacher said that,’ Sohil grinned, basking in the glory of his newfound knowledge.

‘Never mind your teacher. As if you even listen to what she says. You are too busy either pulling Shreya’s plait or mooning over Aditi in class. Hrmphh!’ I retorted even as Sohil’s face blanched of color.

‘How do you know that?’ he cried.

‘I hear all when you gloat about it to your friends,’ I shot back. 

‘Sohil, you scoundrel. Just you wait…’ Mother threatened.

‘You say something, no?’ She nudged Father, the silent spectator.

‘Lady, keep him out of this, okay? This poor man. I’ve heard all your conversations with your sister. How you’ve maxed out his card. And that gold necklace you bought last Diwali without even telling him? Damn, the guy’s a saint. All he wants is to keep you happy. But whatever he does is NEVER enough!’ I tinkled, gasping for breath. 

Listening for hours was fine. But man, speaking was difficult.

Father was shocked, Mother was horrified. She defended herself, ‘I never…I promise, I didn’t do that. You’re believing him? This inanimate nothing. Someone who is redundant in our lives. I tell you, he’s the Devil…wait, I’ll get you,’ she snarled, running to capture me. 

But luck wasn’t on her side. She tripped on my wires and lay sprawled on the floor, clutching her ankle. And Father was there immediately, helping her up. I saw only concern in his eyes even then.

‘How dare you?’ Father yelled, livid. I had never witnessed this side of him.

‘Sir, I’m sorry. I was way out of line. But I really had no choice,’ I replied in my defense.

‘And why is that?’ Granny piped up, not to be outdone. 

‘This is my home. I have been privy to all your deepest, sweetest conversations. I’ve witnessed your meltdowns and guffawed at all your funny antics. In the past, I was your lifeline and occupied a special place here. But now, neither does my tone matter nor my ring. Disconnected, I heard you say. My dial-tone will stop. Gone forever, Boo-hoo,’ I cried bitterly, lamenting my upcoming fate.

‘Ah, that! I admit it was discussed but don’t worry, it won’t come to fruition. You see…,’ he paused before continuing, ‘Grandpa has decided to move you into his room. My oldest friend, he says. The technician will be here soon,’ Father replied, smiling.

As familiar arms encircled me, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude.


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One thought on “A(tone)d

  1. I live in a joint family with my grandparents. And I can definitely relate to this. The portrayal of the characters was done quite well. Nice choice of title, I must add.

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