My neighbour absolutely dislikes gadgets. She uses her mobile phone, laptop and television only occasionally. I often meet her for leisurely afternoon tea on lazy weekends. Afternoons are a great time to be at her house. It always smells of slowly brewed coffee and baked cookies. An artist by profession, I am often mesmerised by her digital-free life. She’s an interesting person to be with, with even more interesting life stories.
Her children prefer playing outdoors to video games and love discussing activities at mealtimes. It is a trait rare among teenagers now. Her husband interestingly also lives a life free from gadgets. They believe that whoever needs to convey an important message would call. For sharing jokes and a simple hello, people are always welcome to drop by.
How did it start?
One sunny afternoon as I sat on her porch helping myself to a cookie, I asked her, “How did it all start?”
“We were just like the others. I was addicted to my mobile phone. My husband could not do without his share of gadgets lest he miss an important email. Then there were those groups that we both were a part of online. It kept us glued onto screens 24/7.
One day my sister held a family get-together. A family get-together like the old times. We were to leave our mobile phones, laptops and whatever other gadgets we had at home and spend a day with them. It seemed like a crazy idea to stay disconnected for so long, but her proposal also tugged at some forgotten part of our heart. So we went ahead.
A day without electronics
When we got there we saw that the trees in the garden were decorated with crystal lamps that would illuminate by twilight. My sister also put up wind chimes on the low hanging branches of trees to add that breezy musical feel to the celebration. The dinner table was set outside on the lawn. The garden was a mix of sweet flowery fragrances and the aroma of slowly cooked meals.
For the children, there were outside games organised. Things that we played growing up. Hide and seek, hit the pot, etc. No television, no cartoons, they had the outdoors, the cousins and the games.
That night, I rediscovered my husband again.
We found each other again
My husband was slow cooking the barbeque while I stood next to him with my wine glass. Above us were the crystal lamps that cast a soft light. We stood there talking. We laughed over jokes and exchanged stories about each other’s lives. Our conversation was more than just about errands. It was like the old times when we dated. There, under the twilight and the soft light of the lamps I saw that my husband’s face now has fine lines around his eyes. He always had crow’s feet when he smiled and I always teased that someday they would become permanent. It was then that I realised that I have never looked at this man this closely for the last ten years. The crow’s feet had almost started to become permanent and I never noticed.
Conversationally, while turning the barbeque sticks he said, ‘I miss this woman so much. Where were we?’
We had such a great time with each other that we did not want the evening to end.
Let’s learn from this
The dinner that night was a huge success. The children looked quite spent and healthy. The family altogether bonded on a new level. As for us, we found each other luckily before the crow’s feet permanently set in. When the last of the guests left our hearts sank. We knew that this was all. Tomorrow we would again be strangers living under the same roof.
Later, while I was helping my sister clear the plates from the table, my husband came in with an urgency and turning me towards him, he said, ‘Let’s not spend the remaining time we have with each other like we did the last ten years. I don’t want to miss you anymore. Ten years is enough time wasted.’
‘Me neither,’ I said.
…and this is how it all started,” my neighbour ended simply.
That sunny afternoon as I sat sipping tea on a beautiful porch with blooming flowers I realised how important it is to prioritise the important people in one’s life. We never give the person we live with a thought because we assume they are always there; but then we forget that life happens only when we spend quality time with each other.