My 12-year-old is hankering after a phone. We haven’t yet succumbed to his entreaties. I watch him with admiration as he comes up with the most ingenious reasons why he must possess a phone, even if not a smartphone. The arguments run the gamut of reasons, from the emotional, and the practical, to peer approval. For long I had thought that Ishaan was a babe-in-the-woods, compared to his peers, but after listening to him the past few months, I am relieved. The boy certainly has his wits about him!
Actually, this is not the first campaign he has run. In this season of elections, that is an appropriate metaphor, isn’t it? The first campaign was for a PS4 or the PlayStation4, for the uninitiated. I was dead opposed to it. Sachin’s counter argument was, most of his peers have it, and how long can we keep him away from these gadgets? I wasn’t convinced.
It was at the O’Coqueiro restaurant in Porvorim in Goa, that Ishaan finally won his PS4. I remember that moment. We were hungry and tired from our journey from Mumbai, and home in Vagator was still half an hour away. O’Coqueiro is an old favourite, and we stopped here for dinner. We had ordered prawn curry and rice, chicken cafreal, and prawns in butter garlic sauce, and as we waited for our food to arrive, Ishaan started a monologue. After a few seconds, I perked up and sat up in my chair to better focus on what he was saying.
He had launched into a passionate rant about the PS4. He milked emotions for all it was worth, citing the ridicule he faces from friends, the bullying he is sometimes subject to, and the utter joy he would get from such an acquisition. At one point, he had tears of self-pity rolling down his cheeks. This was a tour de force of a performance. I was stunned. Here was a son, whom I didn’t quite recognise. Sachin struggled to maintain a poker face, while I tried my best to look empathetic. Finally, he came to a stop. When I sighed at the end of his rant, and looked at him without a word, was the moment I think Ishaan and I both realised that the battle for the PS4 was won!
The rest was just semantics. Of course, I did my mom thing and put in place a system – no PS4 on school days, no PS4 even on weekends, only on long weekends and vacations…you get the drift. It’s another matter that he tries to convince us every weekend, that since the weekend begins from Friday after school, every weekend should technically be considered a long one!
But a gadget is a devil of a master. One gadget only engenders a longing for more of its kind. The dust had barely settled on the PS4, when the hankering after a phone began, a year ago. Why a phone? I asked Ishaan. He argued it’s the most handy communication device for him in case he is: 1. Kidnapped (to which I said they would take his phone before they took him) 2. He is in an emergency (kidnapping apparently is not an emergency), 3. When he wants to just speak to me (I was deeply touched, but not convinced), and the best of all, 4. He doesn’t have to harass us for our respective phones! (I was sorely tempted, especially with this last argument.)
But saner counsel has so far prevailed. Sachin has instead, got him an iPod, which looks almost like a phone. Together they have loaded it with music. The iPods of today bear no resemblance to the iPods of an earlier generation. Now they are wi-fi enabled, have cameras, and except voice calls and WhatsApp, Ishaan can do everything else, including watch videos. The other day, I saw Sachin and Ishaan peering at a Springsteen video on the small iPod screen. Have we solved for one problem, just to create another…time will tell!