Fear And The RealFEAR AND THE REAL
Man has overcome many challenges in the outside but inside he is as helpless as Adam was. What to say of catastrophic fears arising from within, he has not been able to allay even the rudimentary ones. It would have been imagined that technology has made him emerge stronger and confident but on the contrary the same very technology is filling him with greater and worst fears. Take the example of mass communication. Whereas technology has made it possible to take information to entire populations in real time, it also makes people disturbed en masse. Sights appearing on the television of massive destruction left behind by an earthquake in one part of the world leave people in the other parts equally perturbed. Reports of murders and robberies appearing in media make people feel insecure everywhere. Another example of technology causing concerns in people is that of mobile phones. While these phones connect people instantly from all across the globe, it may also cause insurmountable anxiety in some. My personal experience detailed below exemplifies this.
My son was to leave for Sundernagar in Himachal Pradesh to collect some important papers from the institute he attended for his professional degree. He booked a seat in a bus that departed from Kashmiri Gate in the night. Somehow he got late for catching the bus at Kashmiri Gate and decided to go to an en route station called ‘bypass’ to join there. I did not like the idea because that area became deserted and unsafe in the evening. But he had no alternative. Before he left, I instructed him to call me from his mobile phone soon after he boarded the bus.
An hour went by but there was no call from him. I myself tried to call him on his mobile phone but there was no response. Each time I called him, there would be a long silent pause, with no sign of the ringing bell, and then the phone would suddenly get disconnected. Suspicion arose in my mind and I became worried. I feared my son was in deep trouble. My mind wove a web of dreadful stories to explain the failed link. Perhaps some goons had spotted him standing alone at the bus stop and looted all his belongings. Perhaps he was kidnapped for ransom. Perhaps he did not catch the bus and instead got a lift from a passing by car, only to get killed by its occupants for the little cash he carried. Obviously the stories doing the rounds in the media these days about similar heinous crimes taking place everywhere were on my mind. Why otherwise would he not pick up his mobile phone and answer me.
As hours went by my anxiety intensified. My body joined my mind in the fright and began to tremble and throw up. I lost appetite, even if I tried to swallow, I could not. I lost sleep. It was the most hellish, nightmarish night spent ever. It appeared if a real tragedy had struck me and I was in deep shock.
Scenes of my son’s body lying in a mortuary at some obscure place appeared on my metal screen. Newspaper reports requesting public to help identify a dead body, of my son, flashed in my mind. I also expected a ransom call any moment from an abductor of my son. My fears and worries had arisen just because a petty mobile phone connection had failed.
The goons must have smashed his cell phone to cut off incoming calls and to dodge the police. There was no other explanation that came to my mind to explain that failed communication. Since I had been in touch with him all through the day over the same mobile phone, especially when he went to Nai Sadak to purchase some books and later when he went to Kashmiri Gate to reserve his seat in the bus, why was the communication not possible now?
Next day around noon my son called me from Sundernagar from a commercial telephone booth. Hearing his voice I heaved a sigh of relief. Truth came out that his cell phone had developed some snag and therefore malfunctioned. Since he was in the bus travelling all night calling me was not possible. Later on arriving in Sundernagar he got busy with his work and could not call me immediately. He called me when he had come to the market place for lunch.
Coming to know of the reality, I felt extremely sorry for my fears. However I wonder why in the first place I could not overcome those dreadful fears. Why in spite of my university education and well placed in life, ordinary fear shook me. Why I imagined only of the worst to have happened to my son whereas it was simply a case of snag in his cell phone. The answer is clear. The man is still as fearful inside as he was eons ago. Even the greatest of technological innovations in the outside have made no change in his inside.