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     Volume 5 Issue 113 | September 22, 2006 |

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View from the Bottom

The Cellomania

Shahnoor Wahid

"I cannot go on in life without a cell phone but no one seems to understand this important thing in this house. I don't know what to do, really." Thus lamented my twelve-year-old sister standing outside my doorway. She apparently spoke to no one but made sure that the words reached my ears. I realised that a crisis was developing in her life and it needed to be addressed right away before the crisis affected the lives of everyone in the house. "Come on in, sis, what's the problem?" I asked her. "Bhaiya, I need a cell phone of my own badly." She told me in a firm voice. "Is that so? But why do you need a cell phone? There is a land phone in the house. And aren't you a real pichchi to have a cell phone of your own?" I tried to reason with her. But I was not prepared for her retort that came immediately. "Excuse me! I am not a pichchi anymore. I am TWELVE. In the West girls of my age fly planes and climb mountains. And did you say a land phone in the house? Go and see for yourself. Mom is on the line since morning. No, since midnight. First it was her mother. Then it was her five sisters one after another, New York, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Now it is her friends in Dhaka. They are talking about things that happened in the club last night. Who said what and who wore what and all that. You see, I have to know from my friends about homework and many other important things and that's why I need a cell phone of my own. Can't you understand how important it is? Most of my friends have their own cell phone." She stopped. "Aha! There you are!" I said. "It is because most of your friends have personal cell phones so now you have to have one. I see. But tell me sis, I have noticed that most of your friends have holes in their teeth and dandruff in their hair. Now, do you want that too?" My sister looked horror-struck. "How can you joke about something so serious? I had to surrender. "OK...OK I am sorry. But are you familiar with cell phones? They look so complicated to me!" I wish I hadn't said that. She was ready with what I dreaded to hear. "I am not like you bhaiya. You were computer-illiterate and I had to teach you everything. You cannot even operate the television remote control. You spoiled the blender and now I cannot make any milkshake. And who got the kitten sucked into the vacuum cleaner, huh? Now you are so scared of using a cell phone that you do not want to have one. But that's your problem. I need one so badly. Look bhaiya, I know you do not have any money. But I have saved five thousand takas in the bank. Please take me to the market to buy one. Is that OK with you?"

"Why do you have to go to the market? I can go and buy one for you if you want." I volunteered. "No bhaiya. I don't trust you with money. You will take a friend along and spend one thousand taka in a fast food shop and buy me a cheaper version. I shall go with you if you do not mind."

That was enough to bust my ego. That sister of mine can be so insolent at times!
"Well, I guess I will. When do you want to go? And what do I get in return?" I asked her. "I want to go tomorrow after I go with mom to withdraw the money. It's in her account. And I'll treat you to ice-cream afterwards. Is that OK?



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