Tagged : ‘Family’
Those phone calls were the beginning I think. She would spend hours talking into the phone. Her brother-in-law was calling, we were told.
My mother was often worried. Bhuvana has mood swings she would say. But then, who doesn’t? We let it pass. One day Bhuvana said she was feeling unwell. The doctor gave her some placebos. She still refused to get out of the room she locked herself in.
Then started the voices. She was convinced one of our neighbors had performed black magic on her. She wanted to go back home.
A few months later, I visited her home in the Nilgiris. She had been with us too long. She was used to shampoos and conditioners. A home without electricity and other basic facilities didn’t quite suite her. She said she was sick. Persistent fever, I was told. Yet, she refused to come back home to Bangalore. Her sister’s family lived close by. That somewhat made me uneasy. I remembered those long phone calls she used to receive.
April 2011. We were shopping for my sister’s wedding. All of us agreed that Bhuvana was still a part of our family even if she didn’t live with us anymore. A gorgeous red silk sari was picked for her. We joked she might be mistaken for the bride. My parents were told she and her family would definitely try and make it to the wedding. They never came.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call. Bhuvana had eloped. No, those phone calls were not made by her sister’s husband. But by a man with a wife and three children. He used to be a neighbor. She had taken all her belongings with her, including that red silk sari.
Nobody has heard from her since.
Two years back, I heard an aunt complain about the state of her farm and cattle to her husband. It took me a while to realize that, propped up in a chair in Malaysia, she was ‘farming’on Facebook with her sisters and friends in India. The prospect of living abroad, far away from friends and family, somehow seemed to validate her interest in the game and in Facebook itself. I have since been watching (warily) all the uncles, aunties, the second third and fourth cousins, bosses, colleagues you avoid in real life, strangers, friends of friends of friends, all sending ‘friend requests’ on the site. There was little I could do about it. There was a social networking etiquette in place. In a virtual world where everybody knew everybody, refusing a friend request was bad manners.
Hundreds of friends (most of whom I didn’t know), pictures, and wall posts later, I was somewhat shocked to find my family discuss facebook pictures posted by some relatives last night. My father, who spends most of his retired life browsing the web these days, announced that there are new pictures to be viewed. My mother and aunt promptly followed, pouring over the computer.
The site is of course, many things to many people. It could be as personal as you want it to be or even use it to your professional advantage. Yet, I find the idea of facebook coming home deeply unsettling. It is as if an alien contagion has found it’s way home. There seems no more, a separation between your virtual and real-life persona. But more on that later…