“I want to open an account in Facebook,” amma said.
“Uvv..kore kettind”, was my reaction, which was not too unfair considering that my amma is the most technology-averse person you’ll ever meet in your life. Being someone for whom booting up the PC is a chore yet to be mastered, one of the biggest challenges she has ever faced was creating a gmail account. How I remember that day when my chechi first introduced her to the magic world of emails. After much thought, wringing of hands and such, we finally managed to find a username that was not taken and made her feel sufficiently modern. What lies in a name, you ask? I’ll be more than happy to explain it to you when you have an hour to spare. Or two.
Once the name was fixed, next loop to be jumped through was the one that involved fixing the password. We, my chechi and I, being teenagers and hence unflinching advocates of privacy, were adamant that a gmail password is holier that the Holy Grail and sharing it would be… a sin. And so, even though amma told us umpteen times that we should at least know what she has chosen, we refused to “get involved”. Well, to say that we refused to get involved would be the understatement of the year. I can’t help but smile at the memory of the show we put up, averting our gazes purposefully when she typed in the password.
By now, you might’ve guessed where this story is headed to. As is obvious, the next time we tried to log into her account, a good 3-4 months after its creation, amma had no clue as to what her password was. And since we were too busy protecting her “right to privacy of password” to make her write it down someplace, that was the end of her first gmail account.
Fast forward 3 years. The year 2010. This time, it was achan’s turn to guide amma through the potholes of setting up a gmail account. (This time the password was made public even before its inception!) The reason, you ask? I have one word for you – Bharatmatrimony.com. May I infer that there is no need for elaboration from that grin that flashed through your eyes?
And that is how amma started learning the ropes of the INTERNET. Amma, who handles classes of around 120+ postgraduate students on a daily basis, rummaging through the keyboard for ‘G’ – what a sight it was! At this juncture, I should probably say that if the reader detects any unnatural amount of glee in the writer’s words, it is a product of the reader’s overactive imagination. Shame on you, dear reader…shame on you!
So, as I was saying, amma, slowly, painfully, learnt to navigate through the basic levels online. Gmail, Google, Matrimony sites…though the time she spent in front of the PC was her personal brand of hell, she was becoming used to it. My amma was finally becoming tech-savvy!
But you know what they say…all good things must come to an end. Which is exactly what happened. Once the reason for popping into Bharatmatrimony.com every 2 hours was removed, things reverted to normal. Amma stopped using PC, except to play Spider Solitaire (which, incidentally, is her favourite game ever). There had been no talk of gmail or even internet for the past 2-3 months.
Which explained my scorn when she asked me to help her with a Facebook account. In case you are curious, she’s all jazzed up about FB from her students. Apparently, they’ve been badgering her for quite a while so that they could keep in touch! Anyway, things started off predictably, with me throwing my weight whenever she asked me about it. After much negotiations, we agreed on one condition – once she has mastered Gmail, we’ll move on to Facebook. Not one to step back from a challenge, my amma is. She rose to the occasion, one slow, painful step at a time. I still remember her first attempts at sending an email to my sister. I came home one day to the sight of her sitting in front of the PC, slightly emotional. I looked onscreen to see a laboriously typed out sentence that went “dear neethu, mamma miss you”.
She sure has come a long way from that. And no one will be happier than I when she turns out to be the one to give the first ‘like’ for my profile picture. After 20+ years, I can finally empathize with the term “proud parent”.