‘Forget grammar. Forget logic. Forget the logic of grammar or the grammar of logic. Just remember that I have a meeting today.’ This is what Ajay told me in a few hurried punches. Now before you shoot your left eyebrow up in a gesture of surprise, let me add that I am Ajay’s laptop and so all I get is punches. But hey! I love them all.

Ajay has a text file saved inside me and flung carelessly on what you call a desktop. A desktop in a laptop – life does throw funny punches towards me, and so I accept Ajay’s jibes with a lot of restraint. And you know what, I am forever perched on some table or bench or what you call a ‘laptop stand’ that comes equipped with a fan too to keep me cool… but never really on a lap. Those few times I happen to be on a lap, there is a pillow or a cushion or sometimes even a wooden board in between. I never get to feel your lap even though you often call me your ‘hot’ babe! But then, let me not talk about myself here because I am too worried about Ajay missing his meeting and I need to make sure that he mates with his meeting.

‘Help me please… someone, anyone,’ I shouted and was surprised to hear a medley of sounds from all over me. The browser, the anti-virus, the ppt maker, the voice recorder, and even the hoity-toity Word and Excel duo said they would.

‘You will?’ I asked, a little suspicious.

‘We will,’ they chorused, though I could sense the ppt maker stifle a yawn, the browser flirting with Sunny Leone’s page, and the world’s most sought after duo rhyming my state of mind:

‘He huffs and he puffs and he never really sleeps
He knows what will save him are a few urgent beeps!’

Let me tell you that all my friends keep pushing me to warn Ajay to switch me off once in a while as it will give enough time to digest all that I have been fed. I’ve myself heard Ajay say in the mornings: ‘I love it after a great bowel revolution. Makes my insides get back to merry-making again!’ You know and I know that ritual so well and I also know the reason for all my belches and burps at the most critical of times… makes me so embarrassed. I remember once in one of the meetings I was placed next to a lovely damsel called Vaio from some exotic country and there I was burping involuntarily and unstoppably until Vaio quipped, ‘Why don’t you take something?’ I felt like telling her that all I take is Ajay’s urgent punches but then I quivered because I was in the grip of a powerful emotion… and just then my owner shut my lid and placed a glass of freezing beverage there. I tell you I loved the earlier hot-blooded sensation but then the freezing beverage was more than a match for my emotions, I suppose. I really did love that sensation… but had to forget all about the seductive tone of that damsel.

The Vaio incident, by the way, was too mild and just a gonadal giggle to be of any consequence as compared to what happened when I came face to face with what the world calls Mac. Mac was about the same build as me but when he threw a glance towards me he seemed to say that he towered high above and that I must first kowtow and then move further. Even the hoity-toity duo inside me peeped through their windows to get a better look at this formidable personality and they egged me on to ‘slosh it and sock it unperturbed’ because in our short life we cannot possibly afford to be unfriendly… and this Mac fella was like the white of a hard-boiled egg, healthy and yet not as attractive as the yolk, so to say.

‘Hey you!’ I said.

‘Humpf?’ answered Mac in a strangely controlled tone with not a single squeaky decibel that could be heard.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, so I just blurted, ‘Didn’t you hear what I said?’

‘What did you say?’

‘Didn’t you hear at all? Are you deaf?’


‘You don’t scare me at all.’

‘Humpf! Humpf!!’

As there was precious little other than a jumble of ‘Humpfs’ from Mac, I decided that he was just another elitist with a severe communication issue. I was told later by my browser that he was from some dreaded Apple gang and that they had a secret language that no one else understood.

‘So his Humpf could have meant that he doesn’t want to talk to you,’ said the browser.

‘Well, his humpf could mean he didn’t understand me at all.’

Well, let’s just humpf the humpfs of this world, is what I’d say… and let me come to the serious problem that I am grappling with today. Ajay’s mating with his meeting… and I do hope you haven’t forgotten that. And if you have, I’ll just keep reminding you of it… without any indecipherable humpfs, if I may add.

‘Ah, yes,’ said the ever helpful browser, ‘so what did Ajay say?’

‘You’ve already forgotten… and I just called you helpful.’

‘Helpful I am.’

‘Helpful you’re not. Forgetful you are.’

But I did not want to continue fighting with my own people and so I said, ‘He wants to be reminded of his meeting… and he punched it all on the lowly Notepad without knowing that it has no power to remind him.’

‘Did he laugh or smile as he punched?’ asked Movie Maker. Audacity, another friendly software nodded his head in agreement.

‘He punched with a smile on his face,’ I said.

‘Was it a smiling smile or just a smile?’

‘Well, I felt the punch and saw the smile, if this helps.’

‘You see, if it is a smiling smile with a twinkle… and you know what I mean… it just means that he will know whatever it is that must know whenever it is that he must know.’

You know how these movie makers are… they go on and on and on and keep canning their shots to be edited later. So I editing all he said and realised that he had actually philosophised the way humans always do. They go about everything in a largely circuitous way muttering all the time, ‘Shortcuts are bad for the body and mind.’

Now that everyone was queued on to my dilemma, I could see they were all trying hard to offer their own sort of solution. Word was the first to admit defeat though, and he said, ‘I’ve cross-checked with my references and got a blank. Even Look Up and Synonyms in me are silent on this.’ But his partner Excel hummed and then drummed his cells up into a cacophony and said, ‘I know I can have the answer.’

‘Then please hurry up with it.’

‘You have the zeal and the ability,’ said Word with a lot of enthusiasm, interest, fervour, passion, gusto, zest, and keenness… he is one who we talk of with all possible similar words tagged along as he minds it if his synonym-talent goes unrecognised.

‘Tchah!’ was all that Excel had in his repertoire of words! And after a few more of his incomprehensible Tchahs! We were told that he had tried all the possible equations and formulae and none seemed to be the right one.

So there I was, sitting with my head in my lap, a prey of alarm and despondence, surrounded by friends with intrepid courage, and yet not knowing how to extract myself from this specimen of stifling stuffing of an assignment. I groaned in my spirit and so did the others by emitting a similar sound until the lowly alarm that was a part of the date-management system, spoke up.

‘Stop it! Stop all this groaning, will you?’

I stopped and so did the others. There was a calm not so naturally seen in a Windows environment and as the truth of those words spread silently through the system, I could hear everyone joining in acknowledging this, ‘Yes, let’s just stop all this groaning now!’

Only when the silence ceased to a deafening silence where no one proactively hears, and became a productive one, did the lowly alarm continue, ‘I suggest we set up an alarm!’

There was a chorus of ‘You are a miracle man! You are extraordinary, dear alarm!’ Until, of course, I said, ‘The Notepad doesn’t have an alarm built into him.’

‘Oh! I guess he ought to have told us of his incompetence,’ said the generally unrehearsed Photoshop.

‘How could he have? He doesn’t have a voice,’ said the demure and the invariably inconsolably unstoppable media player, and added, ‘and I thought only us women needed to be empowered, poor man!’ Well, we all knew how the media player was always lobbying for more and more file extensions and generally had her way because after all, everyone does love all the song and dance that she is capable of.

‘Empower the Notepad now!’ was now the slogan on everyone’s mind and I could see Skype making important calls to know if there was a solution with the rest of the world. The browser too was busy flipping through website in a desperate flurry to land on one where a solution existed. So were the e-book viewer, Instagram, maps, and even dropbox… a fascinatingly frantic search was on. The clip organiser was on his tenterhooks trying to arrange this massive inflow in a proper and comprehensible documentation. The world, it seemed, was moving fast but time was obviously moving faster almost like the tick-tock of my technology-driven heart!

‘Why can’t we just stop time?’ said the snipping tool, in his usually brisk way, ‘this way we can tame time forever and maybe never reach a time when it is time for the mating of the meeting.’

‘It is just the meeting,’ I said, ‘and may I remind you that time can neither be times nor tamed.’

‘Well,’ drawled the weather app, ‘can’t we just hop over that hot-headed meeting and move to a better time?’

‘Like you do all the time?’

‘I don’t skip all the time.’

‘You do. You say that hot weather is lined up and conveniently skip over the days when clouds gather and it rains. You do it the entire time sir, you do. And you leave us all stranded without our umbrellas.’

‘I don’t.’

‘You do.’ Well, this quaint little verbal duel between the games folder and the weather app would have gone on forever had the lowly alarm not intervened. ‘I say, you chaps are quite good with the way you converse. I just end up being rudely stopped the moment I get into a mood to converse.’

‘You’re the alarm.’

‘Yeah, so I’m the alarm. But I do have a lot of sensible things to say in all my ting-a-ling-a-ling and the trnnnn-trnnnn epics. We’ve been doing this since time immemorial and respect them as our religious texts… oops, sounds!’

‘Well, do you have any sound advice then,’ I asked, fearful of a reply that just might gnaw more ferociously at time that was already harried and rushing on without a care for us.

‘I have,’ said the lowly alarm. Life returned to my rigid ICs and connectors and the bits-n-bytes again got up to plod their weary way with renewed vigour. I wondered how just two words could magically make all the difference to life. So ‘having’ isn’t such a villainous thing, I reasoned.

‘What do you have? Speak up, alarm!’

‘I suggest we set up an alarm!’ squeaked the alarm again, and before any of us could protest about the Notepad not having an alarm built into it, he raised his hands to silence us and went on, ‘I know the Notepad doesn’t have an alarm built into it.’ Saying this, he stopped. And we waited. This would have gone on until eternity but the time management system just set the alarm up again and he woke up with his signature trnnnn-trnnnn and said, ‘So as I was saying, let’s all get to work simultaneously.’

‘But we don’t have a task,’ wailed the snooty duo of Word and Excel. Everyone else was either cynical or just unwilling. Until the lowly alarm said, ‘The laptop cannot handle all of us working together. Right?’

‘Right. We heard you. Go on.’

‘So what does an over-worked and weary laptop do?

Everyone chorused:

‘It whirrs and groans and creaks and hums
Until it’s hard to do its sums.’

And then as everyone hummed this two-liner, they actually made me do exactly this. This was when Ajay lifted his head from the book he was reading and extending his hand, pressed ‘esc’. This magically seemed to shut up all the apps and the programs and only the Notepad remained open with his message.

‘Oh my God! It is almost time. I need to rush for the meeting.’ Ajay then kept the book on the table, and looking at me, said, ‘Hmmm, I don’t know how you did it, but you did remind me of my meeting, pal. As I’ll be away for a few hours, I think I’ll just shut you down.’

All I could say was, ‘It’ll be such a relief, my master!’ It was only after this that Ajay revealed that he had been waiting for mating with this meeting as this was when he would meet his future mate.

We listened to his monologue and whispered, ‘Hurry up now or you wouldn’t be mating the meeting, mate!’



Read my story on the Readomania site as well…


The Smile Project_Top 10 short stories

The Smile Project_Top 10 short stories




Arvind Passey
17 May 2015

Story written on 06 April 2015
Published on Readomania