by Shobha Diwakar
Oops! What did I write? Lapdog, really, oh! Yes, now I realize… I meant laptop. Then why does the title read, Lapdog? Well, you see, both begin with the initial, same alphas L A P meaning Lap, besides Dog and Top… both words share three letters. Yes… funny though it may sound… or sort of, you might say… crazy? Why both sit in your lap! Never mind… one has teeth and whiskers, the other has bytes! Am I right?
You see, the other day when I thought of completing some pending work… to my consternation, the alpha A was on a complete strike! Notwithstanding, how many times I tried to pacify the key, it simply refused to budge and print. Stubborn, I declared and pressed the key somewhat rudely to show who was boss and lo! There the alpha smiled and slipped itself onto the screen. ‘Were you tired?’ I drawled, ‘‘Time to wake up my dear, I have some work on the card, now don’t you drive me crazy and go off to sleep again.” Hardly had I completed my sentence when … alpha A blinked and fell asleep! No mattered how much I pampered it… well… it slept. “Ok, no problem; I’ll work on the other keys… minus YOU,” I chirped and began….
Wait, oh, no, now what! QWE, along with A, SD, and ZXC… snored as never before. Was there a mutiny aboard? I wondered. Shutting down the lapdog … uh, uh, I mean the laptop I felt miserable, there was nothing I could do about it. Consoling myself, I assured myself to work later and thrusting it aside, picked up the daily to read what new was going around the world. As usual, the front page was sprawled with Taliban… the killings, the flights… people fleeing… the dengue spread, the virus variant… children sick in the US… and of course who fleeced who, the corrupt netas, murders, rapes and all sorts of stupid ads some like to gloss over and blah, blah, blah…
Sick and tired of the stale news aired, unaired I chucked it aside. Instead of feeling refreshed, it had ruined my appetite. Now, what should I do? I asked myself. Thinking awhile, I sympathetically glanced at my laptop; it lay there as if begging me with teary eyes to resume work… actually pleading remorsefully for its misbehavior. “No.” I stared at it disconsolately. “I won’t.… You, alpha A drove me nuts. I kept requesting you to release the alpha… and… you… you strapped it up and hung…, now I don’t need you, so go to hell,” I said nonchalantly. The laptop sulked and before I could go any further, it blinked ungraciously and shut itself down.
That soapy face somehow churned my emotions with those dripping tears and so… once again, I fondly picked it up, cuddled it, patted it, stroked it lovingly, and saying … “Ok, now, don’t you cry, … I’ll try again but don’t you dare act stubborn or I’ll dump you again. Why are you naughty? Are you a gangster? You have no wish to jump on the screen alone so you’ve tied up with that entire group around you, have you? Altogether, you muster up your strength against mine! May I ask you why?
The alphas gave no answer and snoozed as before as though drunk with political elixir. The more I groaned and complained, the more they trailed into Elysium. “Ok, go to hell,” I mumbled and bang shut the laptop in sheer disgust until noon to let the silly, sleepy heads drown their drunkenness. By evening, I took it for granted that these lethargic keys must now be awake, so before turning on the TV or check messages, with tender care I cradled it on my lap. However, not before I had placed a snug cushion under it so as not to hurt it; then wiped it with a muslin cloth with cherished love to remove any dust that might have pertinently settled to hug the screen or the keys!
“Oh, gentle, be gentle… don’t thump me… it hurts…,” it wailed. “Uh, did it really cry?” I threw aside the cloth and stared at it. By Jove, was this, my idle laptop, complaining? What cheek! Then throwing a frustrated sneak, consoled myself saying, “How can it when I am so gentle, kind, and thoughtful while handling it? Never drop it, never curse it, never ignore it, and never annoy it. How can it show tantrums when I need it the most?
Lost in these meditations, I soothingly switched it on. I opened Microsoft… it showed a list of works pending… oho! Soul’s Passage… oh, no what the devil did that mean? Was my soul journeying across the globe? Had it converted to being a globetrotter with me trailing behind? Now, where else was this Passage leading me to? It was neither here, nor there, what was its final destination, or was my soul hanging midway, somewhere hung on a treetop? Or else, was my soul, like the deceitful gangsters… alpha A and its corporate allies, drowning itself into nothingness?
“To hell… let go of it,” I grumbled and clicked a new sheet… most confidently… Ok here hoes trying my hand at the other group of keys; to my consternation, I almost lost my balance… “Oh, please click me,” cried the surrounding cluster, “Why not?” I responded, so here goes… YBNM… to no effect, I pounded the keys again… still no sign of any letter… damn it, are all of them on strike? ‘Ok.” I said consoling myself. Maybe all of them drank too much of the ‘political elixir,’ and are swooning after the lonely, dreary night, or who knows may have been slumbering at a roadside inn to enjoy another booze; you see anything is possible these days.
After a while, I pampered them… and lost contact! The blank, black screen stared at me in agony. “Am I to be deleted again?” It seemed to whimper. “No, just stay put, and don’t you disappear.” It gave the impression that it would obey but even as I calmed it, to my dismay the culprit joined hands with its accomplices and passed out! I stared helplessly, stupefied at its arrogance and in a fit of temper, struck the on the button a bit harshly, and lo, the screen grinned back at me, “Hi, I’m back, but do hurry up now before the battery dies. You see, MPEB loves to drown all electronic items dead with its devastating power cuts every day and all year through, although claim, it is for maintenance.… Oho, but why, oh why does it elope for hours at a stretch with just a whiff of the breeze, or a gentle shower or the roar of the… no not the tiger, but the clouds? “You see,” whispered my laptop with a sly wink, “When such is the case with the government machinery and its maintenance, how come I can survive without it?” “Oh, yes,” I quacked, “Very true. Is that why you were sending me vibes all this while? Oh, you stupid, but intelligent goose, why didn’t you yell before?
With a snuffle, the laptop mumbled, “You were so busy… so involved with your work and would not notice how tired we were. You kept on thumping away on our backs indiscreetly with no concern for us locked inside this queer black box… therefore, all that we could do was to go on strike. Now stay cool, we are not going to work until you take me for a checkup to the doctor’s clinic and get me treated with love and care.” Saying so, it slumped again.
Now, all the blame was mine, so all I could do was to consult a couple of physicians, one or two surgeons, and a few super specialists, until another firmly advised that the problem was indeed very severe and if not given medical attention at once, my poor, darling laptop would die an immature death. Just when I thought of making the decision there was a consultant who suggested that perhaps the lapdog … I mean the laptop was already in oblivion and the only way to revive it was immediate surgery. All that remained for me to do was to march it off instantly to the most reputed clinic for diagnosis of the malady.
After a routine medical checkup like X-Ray, MRI, PET, and ‘CAT’ scan available in every remote corner of the town, or any other scan flourishing like the blooming, mushrooming beauty parlors and the pathological labs; my poor, poor lapdog became restless. Lapdog! Did I say lapdog? Uh, uh, I meant, my laptop, finally lay on the best operation table, doused with anesthesia to relieve it of any pain it might feel during the drilling of nuts and bolts… I mean screws into its interior. When it recovered from the shock, it moaned miserably of pain and torture! How ungrateful!
Anyway, I wrapped it up in gauze and bandaged it with great care, then slid it carefully into my sling bag so it did not feel abandoned, brought it home at zero speed, and let it rest until evening to relieve it of its pain, about which, it still pouted. When I undressed it from its layers of protective elements and opened it, there it stood dressed up in brand new attire. It was adorned with a beautiful keyboard shining proudly like the heavenly stars. I directly clicked Microsoft but to my utter panic it refused to cooperate earnestly pleading, “I’ve just been operated upon, can’t you let me rest awhile!”
About the Author:
Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India, and retired as the head of the English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems, and essays in national, international, and online journals. She contributes regularly to writers’ lifeline and Indian Periodical.