I am dying. I’d like to tell you my story before I vanish into oblivion.
I know what you are thinking. You think just because I am an ordinary TV remote, my life wasn’t worth living, let alone recording. Unglamorous and undistinguished are probably the adjectives snickering away in the dusty corners of your mind. It might have annoyed me, but it doesn’t. I pity you your crass blindness.
Ordinary I might be- because I am like millions of others. Similarity is not a synonym for mediocrity; nor is ordinary. The sooner you understand that the less time you will waste being silly.
I am indeed like a million other TV remotes. My life was given meaning and significance by the choices I made. I look back as I stand on the edge of oblivion and I am deeply, wordlessly proud of being who I am. I wonder if you can say that about your life. Maybe it is time for you to take another look at the meaning you have given to the word undistinguished, don’t you think?
Let me tell you my story, and you shall judge for yourself.
I was born five years ago in a country you call Korea. I was reborn the day I was unpacked, my companion TV installed and a pair of delicate hands had me up and running by inserting two dry cells into my innards.
My owners were a newly- wed couple. The TV (and I) was a wedding gift from her aunt.
They loved each other deeply. In the beginning they had no time for us. Days would go by before either one of them thought of watching TV. We silently gathered dust and were sad.
We had hoped to live in the midst of a boisterous family. We had hoped to be the focal point around which life, meals and general melodrama of a typical family happened. The spice of children’s innocent sneaking, the endless arguments of adults over the many debates, the ear- drum splitting music of the adolescents- this was a stuff life was made of. Instead of that elixir, all we got was this layer upon layer of brown fluffy dust of neglect. We were sad, TV and I. But we didn’t say anything to each other. We aren’t very talkative, TV and I; moreover, what was there to say?
Gradually, they began to notice us. For many months they thought of us only during weekends, since both of them were working. Then they began watching TV in the evenings also, sporadically. They had more time for us. No, that isn’t right. They still only had time for each other, but now we were a part of that time also. You know what I mean, right?
In the second year, their child was born. Again for a few months TV and I went back to gathering dust while the child became the focus of attention. Her parents and brother, his parents and siblings, they all came, stayed for a while cooing over the child and left. At last, there was just us with the man, woman and their child.
She had to quit her job to take care of the baby. It annoyed her in a deeply unsettled manner. He had to work harder because the expenses had gone up and her salary wasn’t coming in. He was keyed up and worried.
They’d both be tired in the evening. He worked longer hours while her duties never seemed to end. Motherhood, for all the tenderness it evokes, is not easy after all. All day she would take care of the child, waiting desperately for her man to come home so she could get a break from the child’s incessant demands for a while. By the time he reached home, it would be late and he would be exhausted. He would be in no position to handle a child. I don’t have to dot the I’s and cross the T’s for you, do I?
They began to fight.
Their fights were far from what I expected. She didn’t speak of her exhaustion with the baby; he kept silent about his fatigue. She didn’t say a word about her depression; he kept his worries and stress to himself. Both were trapped in the web made of their sense of responsibility. Both felt they had no right to feel anything but joy as the web tightened around them. Neither felt they had the right to tell the other that the thing which was a joy also seemed like a burden at times. They didn’t think they had the right to feel that way- or that it was okay to feel so. Insidiously, guilt wove itself into the threads of their silence and tightened the web further.
Their arguments were completely tangential, I am sure you would agree. They fought over me.
I became the bone of contention between this once loving couple. Make no mistake, the war was as bloody as has ever ensued over the possession of property. It was as silent and deadly as a dangerous predator. While the real grouse simmered and thickened, both of them vented their ire on me. Both of them fought wordlessly to possess me. You could see it being played out any evening.
Meanwhile, the elephant they pretended not to notice sat placidly between them, getting bigger. Then came a time when it got so big that they could no longer see each other. When it began squeezing them out, things became unmanageable.
Their fights became worse.
To be continued…