A Tale of Two Laptops | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:39 AM, July 02, 2020

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A Tale of Two Laptops

I

We have two laptops. One used to be mine. The other belonged to my father till he retired. My daughter would use that laptop when she got tired of her desktop. My wife never needed a laptop. She'd use her desktop for her school activities. I also had a desktop in my study. My dependence on my laptop was minimal. This is how life was moving on. Until the coronavirus came.

My wife and I started working from home. Our house-staff were advised to stay in their homes till things improve. The only person outside our family to stay with us was my father's nurse.

Two idle laptops and the coronavirus made us experience life in ways that would have been unthinkable in the beginning of 2020.

II

Soon after education institutes closed, I started working in our common living space with my father. My laptop became my workstation.

As I was developing video lectures, preparing Powerpoints, and writing notes, I spent more time with my father than I did in my whole life. My mother left us in 2007. Since then my father kept himself busy teaching in universities. After his second stroke in 2017 he decided to call it a day. I was busy with my life. I didn't focus on my father as much as I should have. Like many old people, he started lading a solitary life. Working from home made us develop a bond that didn't exist when I was growing up. It made me realise, old-age loneliness can be cruel.

III

What happened to the other laptop that was lying idle?

By June it became evident education institutes weren't going to open soon. First my wife's school; then my daughter's school started online classes. The platform was Zoom. It coincided with my own experience of learning Zoom and alternative platforms to adapt in a changing world that may soon become reality. All of a sudden, the three of us started competing for two laptops.

My daughter starts Grade VIII in July. This is a critical year. Decisions taken now will influence the rest of her life. However, like all teenagers, she's developed a world of her own to which I seldom get access. Working from home and her tutor not coming created an opportunity for me to become a part of her life once again. We started to re-discover each other. She's started to share her anxieties and her joys like she used to when she was a child always seeking my attention. Teen age is full of uncertainty. Uncertain outcomes can go either way, positive or negative, and leave a mark for the rest of one's life. Being able to talk with my daughter at this stage of her life has been more than a blessing in disguise.

IV

Age has made me appreciate, blowing up opportunities when I was younger was natural. It was a part of growing up. Age has also made me appreciate, opportunities don't appear every day. When they do, grab them while you can. As the famous last words of Sri Bhagvad Gita echoes, "What will happen shall happen for a good." Two laptops that were sitting idle for ages, were meant to be sitting idle to reveal a gift when the time came. Working from home turned out to be a good idea in the end.

Asrar Chowdhury teaches Economics in classrooms. Outside, he watches Test cricket, plays the flute and listens to music and radio podcasts. Email: asrarul@juniv.edu or asrarul@gmail.com

 

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