Author: Arkapravo Bhaumik
Meera was a superhero minus the cape, the streaky lightning, and the fan-following. Right from her childhood, she could listen-in to the thoughts of other people. Unfortunately, her superpowers were a curse and her own social skills were never fully developed – her cognition never needed it. She came across as an oddball lacking in social acumen. How different life can be if you knew about every thought of the person next to you? There are nuances and social skills which makes all of us socially acceptable, but for Meera, there was no need to talk, no need to write, no need for cordial gestures. And, since she was born with it, she was never able to express her gifts to anyone. She never realized her uniqueness. Anyone attempting a conversation would find her blank stares accompanied by calm yet despondent gestures. Sometimes she would reply with a short phrase.
Her parents considered her different from other kids. At the age of seven, they had decided to keep her away from school and confined to her home on the suggestions of her doctors. Society loves pigeonholes and adjectives such as, ‘nutcase’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘crazy’ were burdened on this little girl.
Her only peace was while drawing or watching the television. Most of the times one would find her in a quiet corner of the room busy with her crayons. Her best friends were creatures of pixels on the television screen and sketches she drew on paper. Her favourites were Tom and Jerry, and watching a Charlie Chaplin movie was always a laugh riot. She had named Charlie as the ‘silly-man-who-is-always-falling-down’, the moniker more often was reduced to, ‘silly-man’. Her favorite movie was the 1921 classic, ‘The Kid’ which she had watched more than fifty times.
The day the Technological Singularity arrived Meera was sketching. All of a sudden the television started up to a buzzing white noise. She did not know what was happening and responding to her instinct she walked to the television and touched the screen. The white noise absorbed her as though it was magic, and brought her to what can only be called as, ‘TV world’. Green fields, blue skies, and a bright sun – with a buzz and a flicker once in a while. She knew Charlie was nearby, she could sense him. A stroll past the meadow, she found him. “Silly man” she called out to him with a smile. “sssshhh… I am not supposed to have a voice” Charlie said in reply.
It really did not matter! The Technological Singularity had brought Meera to a new world where she could not listen-in to any thoughts and no one judged her and one could hear her laughter for miles, or kilometers – if that is how distance is measured in the ‘TV world’.
I am not sure if everyone else became robots, or if the machines won with the humans, but a little girl found her happiness.