‘When is this social media going to like me?’ Mini says in her mind.
She has uploaded pictures from her college fest in Facebook tagging her friends this morning. But there are only 20 likes after 9 hours. In 9 hours, Kunal gets more than 200 likes even for a stupid meme. Kunal, the most handsome guy in Mini’s class is popular in his friend’s circle. Mini likes him too. She was so excited the day Kunal accepted her friend request in FB. She checks her photos once more. No, even Kunal didn’t give a thumbs up for them.
Mini feels insulted and throws her smartphone on the sofa the way Kamla bai bangs dirty clothes in the bathroom every weekend. She enters the kitchen where Snehalata is making besan laddoos. Mini opens the refrigerator to check if there is anything edible inside, then bangs it’s door finding none.
‘Feeling hungry? Wait, I will prepare Maggi for you in two minutes,’ 74 year old Snehalata winks at her granddaughter and puts a bowl filled with water on the gas.
‘I am not hungry,’ Mini says with a sullen face and leans back on the same refrigerator which she has banged five seconds ago.
‘Then why are you so upset?’
‘Nobody likes me, Daadi.’
‘How can you say that?’ Snehalata looks confused as she perfects the laddoo’s round shape with her hands.
‘Because I don’t get enough likes in Facebook and Instagram. It’s important to be popular in social media these days.’
‘I don’t understand you kids at all. Your entire world seem to revolve around social media. Facebook and…..what was the other name you mentioned?’ Snehalata empties one small packet of Maggi in the boiling water.
‘Instagram, Daadi. World of hashtags.’
‘Now, what on earth is that?’ Snehalata mixes the Maggi masala in the boiling water.
‘You can post or watch photos, videos in hashtags and like them. There is a hashtag for almost every moment in your life,’ Mini replies. The entire kitchen is giving enticing smell of Maggi masala.
‘Can these….Facebook….hashtags….define someone in real?’ Snehalata shoos away Mini’s hand from the laddoos.
‘What do you mean?’ Mini gets confused now. Snehalata smiles charmingly in reply, adjusts her glasses and gives one besan laddoo in Mini’s hand and pushes another big one inside her mouth.
Two weeks later :
‘Meenal, can you drop me? My bike has got a flat tire, ‘ Kunal asks Mini in an abrupt manner.
‘Sure,’ Mini can’t believe her luck today. Thanks to the bad weather and his bike’s flat tire, Kunal Singh is asking lift from Mini and that too in a rickshaw. It is the first time Mini has come this close to Kunal.
Kunal gets up in the rickshaw and shouts at the driver, ‘Start now.You oldie.’
Ten minutes later, it starts to rain heavily. The poor driver gives all his strength to pull two young people. He is getting drenched. Mini takes out her umbrella from bag.
‘What are you doing?’ Kunal points towards the umbrella looking amused.
‘I will give it to the driver,’ Mini replies.
‘Meenal,’ Kunal laughs out loud enough for the old man to hear his words. ‘It’s his job. You don’t need to show sympathy. He will not take even one penny less from you. Keep the umbrella back.’ Kunal orders Mini. She sits with the umbrella like a stupid.
‘Hey, you blockhead. Turn right and go inside that lane,’ Kunal gives instructions to the driver. The man tries his best to enter the small muddy lane. Finally, he gives up.
‘I can’t go further, Saab,’ the old man turns at us. Water is dripping from his face.
‘Moron. Leave this job if you can’t drive this much. How will I go in this rain?’ Kunal is furious and then he looks at me. ‘Meenal, I need your umbrella.’
‘Sorry Kunal. I need it too.’ Mini holds her umbrella tightly. Kunal gives her a disgusted look and steps down from the rickshaw. ‘Cut his fare,’ he orders once again. Mini looks at him in disbelief. She never thought Kunal can be this insensitive.
Mini holds the umbrella above the driver’s head until she reaches home.
‘Bibi ji, you have paid me extra money,’ the old man produces a twenty rupee note.
‘Keep it. Have some hot tea and snacks. My treat,’ Mini smiles at him.’And take this too,’ she hands him her umbrella.
The old man looks at Mini for sometime and puts his shaky hands on her head. ‘God bless you, Bibi ji .’
Mini has understood what Snehalata was trying to convey that day. Social media can’t define who we actually are. This job is entirely upon us. She presses the door bell.