Text me.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One day in 2013 The Delhi Walla’s Sony Xperia stopped working. It felt as if my wife had died. The touch-screen phone had everything I would need if I were to be stranded on a deserted island — my Gmail, my Google, my six Jane Austen e-novels, and my contact list of more than 500 phone numbers.

The most crushing thing was the loss of the hundreds of special text messages I had exchanged and saved over the years with some very special people. Many a lonely evening I’d relived old memories rereading those precious SMSes.

Now, the archive of my recent history was lost.

The first evening following the tragedy, I walked, and walked, in the bylanes of Old Delhi, feeling utterly ruined. The next morning I went to a shop around the corner and, as a stop-gap arrangement, purchased a fist-sized Nokia phone; it was an old and cheap model that everyone once had and no one now has.

This mobile has no Internet. It cannot take photos. It cannot save even 100 contacts. In fact, it deletes old SMSes automatically. No wonder then that it took me a few days to readjust my habits and manners to the Dumbphone — and then my life changed.

Since my ears could no longer be plugged to FM channels, I relearned to hear the music of street sounds and birdsong. Since I could no longer take photos of decisive moments in real time, I learnt to cultivate the art of seeing those clickable scenes with more feeling.

Yes, it was frustrating to not read my emails the moment they were sent, but I soon discovered the pleasure of checking my inbox after a gap of a few hours (sometimes 24 hours) and finding so many friends and enemies lined up to have a word with me.

Today I feel lighter. I’ll never marry a Smartphone again.

A phony story

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