It all begins quite unexpectedly on a drab weekday. The bathroom door’s outer handle breaks off when my daughter tries to close it. She hands me the handle and walks off into the next virtual classroom. I find a screwdriver and walk into the bathroom to investigate the handle and door lock mechanism. To figure out how it is was attached to the door, I start fiddling with the inner handle. A strong burst of wind sweeps in. The door slams shut even as the protruding compressible latch on the side slides in unseen, with a soft yet ominous-sounding click. It is followed by the inner handle plopping down, missing my toes by mere inches. I find myself effectively locked inside the bathroom holding nothing but a sturdy screwdriver. The family members are all inside their virtual zones. So screaming and throwing a fit would be of no use. To my exasperation, my phone lies somewhere outside, and it rings insistently. I doubt if it would alert anyone to my absence. And the closed doors and the windows fitted with strengthened glasses would muffle sounds from flowing freely. I tell myself to calm down. My mind craves the touch of the Kindle or the phone or the laptop keys and my fingers shiver. The separation, even a temporary one (surely!) from my virtual devices hurts.
Driven by keen unnerving desperation my mind begins devising plans. It runs quick simulations of lock picking scenes from various movies, TV series I have watched in the recent and distant past, even as my eyes and ears turn inwards to enjoy and learn from the truly audiovisual experience hosted by the versatile and amazing human brain. Slowly it turns into an epic mashup with dance and song sequences inserted intermittently with even subtitles springing up. Oh, my beautiful mind! Then a small imperceptible nudge. A glitch perhaps! A message flashes on the screen, a sparky reminder about my mission. To lock-pick my way out of the locked bathroom.
Time to put the learning and newly acquired skill to use. I reluctantly command my inner entertainment center to hit pause. I momentarily feel an adrenalin rush probably rivaling even that of character Neo’s in Matrix. I try twisting and turning the screwdriver inside the keyhole. Of course, it is too large. I need something more slender. My eyes scan the bathroom floor, zeroing in on a length of wire lying next to the fallen handle. Perfect! I pick it up with growing reverence and begin the careful movements with it to unlock. But the lock does not budge. I try again, dredging up ideas from memories of the various ambiguous techniques from that epic mashup. My mind promptly plays a background soundtrack that ranges from soothing Beethoven inspired melodies and songs to hard metal, matching my evolving mood as the illusion crumbles. It was all a lie…all those lock-picking techniques glorified. I fold my hands feeling cross with the universe. That is when I hear it. A tweet. Then a series of tweets. The sound floating in from the slightly open window high above on the wall. It is the real deal, generated by a being’s vocal cords, The sound is punctuated by barks, forming a natural melody. I place my ears close to the wall, listen for a moment, confirming it is indeed who I believe it is. Then lifting up on my toes, I cup my mouth and call out to Sally the rescued indie dog, and Trixie the rescued indie pup who prefers to tweet when she is hit by anxiety rather than bark, yap, or whine. Sure enough, I hear both of them thundering on their paws like wild horses as they go to alert someone. My heart chimes.
Soon the door shudders as someone decides to use the fallen handle outside along with the locking rod to turn it around. And voila! The door opens and I am free. Free to return to the virtual world. But before that…time to indulge in the soothing and familiar comfort of some sweet and milky ginger chai with a generously loaded plate of Parle G biscuits, the latter heartily shared with Trixie and Sally. The old fashioned brew and snacks never tasted better. Crispy on the outside, soaked with the goodness of chai inside, it warms the cockles of my heart in a delightfully cliched manner. The slowly rising rumble of thunder outside followed by the twirling leaves and dancing branches welcoming the fast landing raindrops adds to the indescribable feel-good effect.