I lost my cell phone yesterday. I can’t say it hasn’t happened before though. It has. Twice. The circumstances are different every time though the reactions are always the same. It goes from bafflement, at not feeling the familiar shape of it in my bag after several minutes of rummaging, moving on to panic. Then the creeping realisation of loss, followed by a heart-sinking sense of bereftness and melancholy, like a part of me got severed or something.
It is not a nice feeling. And it always makes me re-trace my steps in a futile attempt to turn back the clock to a point where I could have steered the course of events in such a way as to avoid what eventually happened. But now, all I’m left with is a feeling of ‘if only’……
My Nokia X-3 was running low on battery and I was trying to make up my mind whether to take it with me or not. I was getting ready to be picked up by a friend to attend a spring festival on the other side of town, and I had to decide whether to take my camera or use my phone to record a video of the event. Turned out the camera was completely uncharged, so instead of leaving my phone at home to get juiced, I opted to take it with me and wing a video with whatever little charge that was left in it.
To be honest, I was in two minds about going to the event at all, as it was to be outdoors and I knew it would be terribly sunny. But I went, partially because I knew my friend wanted company and I was feeling sporty. Plus there was an impromptu flash mob in the offing and around forty drummers would form a circle and play their hearts out. We couldn’t miss that!
So off we went, and it was a nice drive on a lazy Sunday without the usual frenetic traffic on the roads and a feeling of adventurousness in two girls who would otherwise be lounging in comfy pajamas and t-shirts at home. We bought our tickets and some coupons for games, not really wanting to play but just to contribute towards the worthy cause of the SIUT, an organisation that works towards free treatment of kidney patients, including dialysis and transplantation. It was breezy and would be quite a pleasant afternoon if not for the summer sun making its presence felt. We bought a few ice lollies to cool us down and wandered around looking at options for entertainment, though it was apparent that this was more a carnival for children than 30-somethings 😛
A few more friends joined us, amongst them some of the musicians who had been rounded up to be a part of the ‘drum circle’, which I imagined would be something like this…
The plan was to watch the drum circle play and then skedaddle back home asap. The timing was delayed due to a no-show by about 35 of the 40 drummers, but after a bit of discussion around one of the large tables dotting the grass under the humungus tent, they decided to go ahead with the plan sans the missing drummers in a little while. I pulled out my phone to check the time and to send a whimsical message to another friend to come join us there.
While the musicians drifted off in search of food, we walked over to a gola ganda stall to buy a styrofoam cup of what is essentially shaved ice smothered in colourful syrups and condensed milk, and shared it sitting under the shade of a huge cargo plane, one of the features on the lawns of the PAF museum where the festival had been arranged. It was really pleasant in the shade and we slurped our gola ganda and crunched the ice while chatting about this and that until it seemed the drummers were gathering to play nearby. We got up and walked over while I rummaged in my bag for my phone…..
Well, you know what happened next. Instead of watching the drum circle perform the event of the day, my friend and I spent the next fifteen minutes backtracking and searching for the phone. She used her phone to call mine only to be told by an automated voice that the device she was trying to reach was powered off…..a surefire sign of it having been picked up by someone with not very noble intentions.
We drove home feeling dejected and sunburnt. My friend couldn’t help feeling that it was somehow her fault for having asked me to come along with her to the spring festival in the first place. If we hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have lost my phone. But really, it was just my own carelessness. I had probably dropped it on the grass after getting up from the table, forgetting that the phone was in my lap rather than my bag. It could have been picked up by anyone, maybe a kid….perhaps one of the attendants who were busily cleaning up litter around the tables had spotted it on the ground and quietly pocketed it.
Dejection is not a natural state for me to be in and one of the ways I cope is to temporarily block it from my head, call it denial if you will. It had barely been a year since I lost my last phone, and the feeling of loss then was so intense and I missed it so much and was so outraged with myself for being careless I cried for a week thinking about it.
This time, however, I bore up with a touch more sang-froid than usual. It was unfortunate, yes, but after all unfortunate things DO happen. Okay, so I lost a phone worth 12000 rupees. It could have been worse.
But today I find myself feeling outraged not at myself but at the inevitability of a lost phone being stolen. Why does it always have to be this way? Why can’t there be any honest people with morals enough to return lost property to its rightful owners? What ever happened to decency and common courtesy…and doing the right thing? Is it natural to expect your lost cell phone to be sickeningly powered off EVERY time you have the misfortune of dropping it somewhere?? Doesn’t this god-fearing nation have any capacity for goodwill, and the most basic reward of satisfaction at helping someone find what belongs to them? Is it too much to expect an ounce of conscience?