“Hello,” I say as the person at the other end adjusts her voice to ‘hello’ me back. And there is no mistake, it is her.
I have talked to her just a few days ago, but speaking to her this afternoon gives me extraordinary feeling.
“You must be growing younger now,” I joke.
“Yes, I am growing young,” my grandmother says immediately; she sounds like a teenager. But soon reality dawns on me. I have to raise my voice by a few decibels. I really wish I am there with her to be able to watch the sort of expression her face carries at this moment as she speaks to me on her privately owned cell phone. I immediately call my mother in the village to share the news.
My grandmother is an old woman cruising majestically into her mid eighties, but here is a woman who embodies strength and a role model to us all. She has worked hard throughout her life in the village to raise her big family. Giving birth to 12 children, of which only 8 survived, my grandmother today spends her time in praying. After the death of our grandfather in 2005, she has been living either in Thimphu or Gelephu with her sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters.
One of my thoughtful uncles lives in Paro. And recently he has given our grandmother a private cell phone. I don’t know whether it was a new one or not, but it hardly matter for she now has a phone to call her own. From now on, she may not have to wait for others to pass her their phones before she could talk. My uncle has taught her how to operate it and slowly she might even learn to call others. As I call her today, she exhibits her newly acquired knowledge and I am glad that she is given a gift to remember.
But as I hang up the phone after calling my mother, I feel bad. Why didn’t I realize it before? For that matter why didn’t my other uncles and aunts or cousins think? Because she is an old illiterate woman, did we think that she cannot own a phone? I have but more questions than answers. It took a thoughtful uncle to show us the ways to please people however old they are.
Small acts this goes a long way. As my grandmother speaks on her phone, she definitely sounds happy. And maybe she is happy because she has received a call from her grandson and that too on her own cell. This must send the message to all people both old and young.Five years ago, we all considered mobile phones luxury items, but toady we live in a digital world. If people’s buying expensive gadgets by availing loans from the banks is any indication, times have changed.