Present in the Present

Hello, here, I’m here, perched on the wooden frame, yes. Okay, you got me. 

Welcome to the Guptas’ living room. I’m the oldest member of this family. They call me Grandfather’s clock but I actually date back to Great Grandfather’s time. I’ve stood the test of time, quite literally. I’m witness to the ephemeral nature of life, with older members gone and new ones born to the household. 

Guptas are a happy family, I can say. They still live together, all three generations, under the same roof. But times are changing. Not long ago, the living room used to reverberate with laughter and chattering of children and adults. It was the arena where board games, TV soaps, gossip, music and idle banter played out, all under my happy gaze. Evenings use to be a time for heated political debates over tea, kids’ homework and family meetings to discuss business, vacations, finances and any issues that cropped up in the joint family.

Of late, the living room has gone quiet. The family television sits unattended and the bookshelf is gathering dust. All members are busy now a days. Children are ferried to endless classes and adults seem possessed by a new kid on block. They call it smartphone. I wonder how an object the size of bread toast, can keep everyone wrapped around it’s gleaming screen. They walk about as if they are under it’s spell. I hardly get to see their faces, with their necks curved all the time at an akward angle! The little baby refuses to eat unless the screen plays songs. Even the old man has fallen victim to it. Instead of playing chess with his friends, he bursts candies on the shiny screen! Horror!

 I am saddened, I have to admit. No one looks up to me anymore, to check time. That monster has taken away all my respect and prominence, that I earned over the years, in the house. I stand here abandoned, like a relic of the past era, worried if I’ll be relegated someday to the basement or sold to auction. I wonder why they love the toy so much that they are unable to part with it, anytime of the day or night. 

I was hopelessly resigned to my fate, till I heard something one evening.

Last month, Guptas’ daughter took her little urchin to the park. Little one decided to hone his newly acquired walking skills and wandered off into the building opposite the park, while mummy dear sat unaware, running her fingers on the screen!

This was not enough. Gupta family was on vacation last week. While the adults were lazing around the poolside with their screens, their adventurous five year old ventured into the deep and almost drowned, before being spotted and rescued by someone.

Today the family is together in the living room, after long. There is a comfortable silence. I’m glad everyone is present, in the present, again. Are you?

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Anjali Sharma

Anjali loves reading and writing in English and Hindi languages. She enjoys nature, music, art and spending time with children. She is a Banking/Investments professional.

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