I have just been abruptly and inexplicably abandoned: my labptop remains unblinkingly, stubbornly black, and my flash drive (the one I refer to as my "mangal sutra": its significance obvious at being compared to a woman's dependence on her marriage) is corrupt, all the information and files perversely curdled to gibberish.
I have always been aware of my dependency on my electronics, but it was an awareness that was comfortably obscure, vague, like a balloon payment due a couple of decades in the future. In my defense, however, I do back up everything: on my computer and my flash drive, which, everyone tells me, is practically indestructible. Of course, like my present apocalypse would avouch, nothing, absolutely nothing is ague proof, and if the universe decides one is to be without back ups or blankets or roofs, no amount of pre-planning, insurance policies, savings, or technological know-how can abate destiny.
This week has been a lesson in humility and patience. I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that I shall have to re-create my universe: all my courses, all my notes, all my assignments, even all the poetry and a couple of short stories I've been writing for the past few months, all is lost.
If my father were here, he'd tell me not to worry, that the original blueprint is still intact, in my head! However, right now, my brain is so numbed it cannot approach the thought of my loss without commanding my knees to feel weak, my shoulders to melt, my extremeties to turn cold, and eyes to leak.
The question, then, is, should I go back to a pre-lapsarian age of keeping paper back-ups, every comma, every phrase securely penciled in before the day ends? I remember my student days. I had several of those huge pothis, the Books that businessmen open during Diwali, with kum kum and an invocation to Ganesh, the kind that are hard-bound in red cloth, the seams stitched firmly with strong thread.
Those tomes were my hard drives, my back ups, and they, being too heavy, lived on my bed side table.
When I immigrated, of course, I had to leave the pothis behind, along with my problematic, enviromentally unfriendly dependence on paper. Like all immigrants, I have been very proud of my adaptability to new ways of working, writing, and saving. In fact, I am afraid I might have boasted my intent of weaning myself off the need for hard copies in not too distant past.
This hubris, of course, is the reason why such a disaster has visited me and left me thus bereft.
As I sit here, at a borrowed machine, surrounded by my primary sources, re-creating presentations and notes I shall need for next week's classes, I mourn for my pothis, for an age that has long passed into memory, when nothing could be completely destroyed or lost, and my relationship with the written word was organic and real.
However, I also know that the pre-lapsarian age I mourn for was fraught with incomprehension at my hurried notes, rubbed off and otherwise illegible writing, and having to scroll through many, many heavy pages for a bit of information since those tomes had no search function.
I also know that while it might be cumbersome to re-create all my work, once re-created, it shall be more prolific, legible, organized, and accessible to me. Besides, making these presentations reminds me of how much I enjoyed making them in the first place and keeps me from being atrophied.
For my creative work that is lost irretrievably, I go back to the undying truth that all that is born has to die; losing those poems and short stories should remind me that once out of my being, they don't belong to me but to the universe, which has, rightfully, swallowed them. But the lost pieces feel to me like lost children, and even though I know I am not the first who has lost them, and that not all children who are concieved get to be born, I still rage at the injustice of having to give them up before their time.
Going back to the drawing board is both necessary and inevitable, and I do understand that. However, every time I have to make that journey, I get a little more lost on the way.