My mom has always used one of the best mobile phones among her peer group. In fact nobody I knew in her circles has changed as many mobile phones as she did, thanks to her son. To her credit, she paid for all of them and didn’t mind buying a new phone every year or whenever the son got bored with the existing phone. What followed the purchase is she received the older ones every time. Sometimes a little wrecked, sometimes with one or two scratches on the screen. However, she is pretty excited every single time this transfer happened. She doesn’t know that her phone was a mid range or last year’s flagship product. She doesn’t care. She’s an eternal optimist, because she always asked me about the new features in the phone she’d be receiving. She probably never used them when I am not around. It’s an upgrade to her and she saw it like that.
One such transfer happened yesterday and it was different and special on two notes. When I purchased HTC desire 816 an year ago, it became the first mobile phone I paid the money for. When yours truly bought oneplus two a week back, the HTC warmed up to move to the mother’s safe hands. Where it’d be respected for what it is and not compared to phones twice it’s specs. Where it wouldn’t be dropped at all. Yesterday mom received a phone I paid for and it was her first smart phone.
I wanted to preload the phone with a few apps but all I could think of was ‘talking ginger’. This is one app she played with every time I bought the iPad home. It fascinated her that the app could sing back even complex lyrics of Telugu and Tamil songs she threw at it. I added Skype and WhatsApp as well. Skype would open the prospect of a video call with me and whatsappability is apparently a new achievement among her circles. What happened later was so beautiful and that is something I would remember for a long time. That is something I would like to capture in mere words here as well.
I showed talking ginger first when I opened it and she was already happy that she could play with it everyday. As the phone needed a nano sim, I didn’t do much. As mom asked repeatedly about teaching her Skype and WhatsApp, I shared my 3G through a Hotspot. Seeing that, she was as excited as if I had solved the Reimann hypothesis. I called her on Skype from another room and for the next five minutes she was smiling in joy. She wanted to try again, she called this time. It worked again, happy smiles again. Skype was a personal achievement for her. It was magic. For she never thought she could video call me when I am away from home. It was the stuff of films for her. Now probably she might even stay awake to have that two minute Skype call when I reach my flat after office, late in the night.
WhatsApp is a different game now. In Skype the user has to touch a icon once and it’s done. Over here she has to read and type back for the communication to happen. Also of course the blue ticks. Aunts who’d wish her welcome might turn sad that she hasn’t replied after seeing it. And the qwerty keyboard maze. The joke she made when we bought our first laptop about how do people search for letters on this has come back to her now. She was ready for the challenge, she wanted to get on WhatsApp. While I verified the number, I asked her to choose a display picture. She chose a pic with both of us and in which I took most of the screen space. Those kinds of pictures we keep on their birthdays as our DPs. She chose that as her best picture to display. Indian parents, I tell you. When we are online finally, she couldn’t believe that contact list of people who already were on WhatsApp would appear. I taught her to checkout people’s DPs and a tip how not to video call while doing it. She received a welcome message from a colleague. She opened and read it aloud. Just like I had read my first tinkle comic. A cousin of mine has sent her that the DP was nice. She had to reply. She took a full minute or two to say thank you but she did it. I was just watching from a distance. She read me all the jokes and quotes she received. The teacher that she is, she found a spelling mistake in a forward message. Today while I was sleeping she asked me how to forward a pic she had received. I turned and slept again. She woke me up after sometime to tell me that she has done it, that she has forwarded a pic. This time I didn’t sleep. I smiled. Just like she did 15 years ago, when I pulled her out to balcony to show how I started riding the bicycle. She sounded like she achieved something. She did. My mom is now on WhatsApp. Trivial as that sounds it was a big deal to her. To learn something, some young people thing at 56.
The other thing she asked me to teach was how to take a selfie. Now you know where the genes came from. She is figuring out the smartphone puzzle. One little piece at a time. I am not expecting her to emo text me on WhatsApp. I am just as happy seeing a blue tick on images I send her. For all that counts she has opened the app and seen my message. She might never solve the qwerty maze. Or she may get on Facebook one day, even though I hope she doesn’t. There’s a long way for her to go now. She has taken first steps and it’s beautiful to watch so far. For now she can WhatsApp and video call me. She is probably going to tell everyone she meets about this for a few days. She can. It was an achievement. While I type all this, she is back to playing with ginger. It still fascinated her. Maybe I pushed aside all the interesting books she bought me to play with a toy. Maybe she would have said, he’ll grow up fine. Yes mom, you will be fine too, with this new smartphone.
P.S: Here’s something a 100 times more beautiful which inspired me to write this.