MIDWAY : Cyber blues

Prasanna Raj Aryal

From the day I brought home a brand new PIII 450 Mhz desktop, e-mails have been a part of my life; but it didn’t last long. One fine day the machine refused to operate. The three experts I referred to all had as many different versions of what might have gone wrong.

One said it might have been a hard disk failure, the other was of the opinion that the RAM went off, while the third declared the machine suffered a “Suicide.544” viral infection. Whatever the cause, none could render the machine useful. It is now laying in my junkyard.

Therefore, the “Rs 25 per hour” advertisement in front of a cyber-cafe quickly caught my attention. It had been long, in fact two weeks, since I last checked e-mails. The Inbox must have been full by now, I thought as I entered the cyber café. It was a long room with two rows of computer terminals networked on either sides. The place was teeming with all sorts of people surfing the Internet for all sorts of reasons; school kids trying to use the net for the first time, wanna-be hacker trying all sorts of cool stuff to break a website, girls with their panties showing above their pants, writing mails to their lovers overseas whom they have probably never seen, boys stretching their heads to see what the other girl’s password is, people chatting and smiling to themselves as they struggle to find the right word or emoticons, an elderly man trying to get into the groove with the new generation — the place was full of life.

I took the seat in front of the only vacant terminal at the far corner. It took five minutes to boot the computer and another excruciating five minutes to open the Yahoo mail page. I supplied my username and password and waited impatiently as the website displayed my inbox status. I longed for the sight of my mail box being full; full of those e-mails sent from kith and kin from the world over. I longed for those happy-new-years and happy-birthdays and how-are-yous. Don’t open any forwarded messages I warned myself. Yet yahoo page was still downloading. I was shocked to see my inbox. It was empty, almost. No wishes, no remembrances, not even mere forwards but just a single mail. After two weeks of absence from the cyber world and after enduring twenty minutes of feverish wait all I see in

my inbox is one single mail, that too from a jerk named Stacy with the subject ine “Prasanna, I’ve just turned eighteen.”