On the Loss of Earphones

I lost my earphones today. I lost them to the unrelenting laws of physics and attrition. Electronic components, I have been told, have shelf lives. They die with use. It is a very natural death, they told me. That did nothing to console me. My earphones, or the lack of a working pair, left me devastated. I loved those earphones. They had a clear sound and were better than those used by my friends. I was secretly proud of them and considered myself lucky. Today, bereft of my priceless pair of music accessories, I try to document, within these pages, the effect the passing away of my earphones had on me.

Immediately following the discovery of the fact that one of the earpieces was not working, I went into shock. I could not believe it. It seemed impossible. So I tried twisting the cord, to see if I could somehow make the other earpiece start working. Not only did my amateurish endeavour not reap the result desired, but it also ended up putting the working earpiece out of order.

The shock was terrible. My mind went numb as the music stopped playing. I lay on my bed, hoping for a miracle to restore sound to my earphones. But nothing happened. Slowly, the realisation sunk in that I had lost my earphones. It was a hard moment indeed.

I could not move. I lay there thinking. The earphones were lying on the bed, the earpieces scattered and facing the bed sheet while the jack was limp, as if probing the air for the earpieces to reproduce any sound. Out of habit, I thought. That jack must be longing for the warmth of the port of the music player. It made me sad, the dead earphones lying there. They became a memento mori. I thought about the earphones. Then I tried to think some more, and my generally idle brain, unaccustomed to thinking of any kind and pleasantly surprised at this spurt of activity, went all out to provide me with unforeseen philosophical insights.

I thought about the inevitability of death and how each thing, natural or artificial, is doomed to end. It was cruel, the realisation that death was nigh. I looked around myself, at the objects in my room and contemplated how superficial their existence was. The walls, I told myself, would fall one day. The bed would turn to rubble. And my mind, this amazing entity pondering so beautifully on death, would one day cease to exist. This thought made me miserable. I was torn between the desire to weep at my fate and to admire my deep thinking that made me feel that way. I decided on the former. I realised that such admiration for my thoughts would be better reserved for the public, who years after I had left the good earth, would shed many a tear in my memory and recall how I had taught them about life and death. I saw them, through the eye of my mind, erecting statues of me that spread my word and telling their children about the great man who preached the truth about life. Their affection touched me. So deeply moved was I by their persistence to remember me centuries after I had died that my eyes became moist.

My cousin, a rude creature not given to such bouts of enlightenment, interrupted my lovely reverie and asked me for a pen-drive. Instead of being angry, I, in my state of illumination, sat up on my bed and started to share with him my idea. It struck me that it was only just, that my first disciple would be a member of my family. My cousin looked at me in a strange manner. I gathered that he was frightened by this terrible revelation, as all mortal men are wont to be.  I smiled benevolently at him, thinking that only a few are born with reserves of mental strength like mine that could remain courageous in the face of such horrible truth. My cousin’s reaction was somewhat unexpected. He called me names and told me to sod off, an expression I did not approve of. Next, I tried to enlighten my mother regarding the issue. She took offence and said I would be in for a rough time if I did not do well at the interview scheduled a week later. I was hurt. It pained me deeply to see that people were so averse to help. It was a lesson for life. It made my resolve stronger. I decided to strive hard to spread my morbid message to everyone.

I came back to my room. The dark interior of the room stimulated my brain, which hitherto being inexperienced to exercise of any kind, released a plethora of hormones. Several feelings washed though me. It culminated in a long drawn yawn but I thought that surely there must be more to the upheaval in my mind than the mere message of sleep to my body. So I lay down and urged my brain to think. It responded eagerly, opening up new vistas of thought.

I began to feel mistrustful of life and the living. I also lost all faith in artificial things. The sudden loss of the earphones had created a trust deficit- I could not put my mind to trust anything. Any relationship could fall apart; any object could just stop working. The world seemed to me at the edge of a mishap. I cast disturbing glances at the fan overhead. It seemed like it could fall any moment. I thought of the complexity of the biological systems inside my body. It seemed a miracle that all of the organs were working. I found my faith shifting from life towards God and thanked Him for keeping me alive. It was amazing. I felt a strange oneness with God. This must be the moment of realisation Saints talk about, I thought. It almost made me cry.

I still felt sick. The divine oneness had lasted but for a moment. I realised I needed some music. I reached out for my earphones. Then it struck me they were out of order. A chill ran down my spine. The sense of loss that overcame me was indescribable. I could not move, I could not think. I could scarcely hear my heartbeat but a nasty horn from a passing vehicle outside assured me my hearing faculty was still intact. I needed music all the more. And the more I needed music, the sharper the pain of loss of my beloved earphones became. It was a cycle too vicious for human feelings. A lesser man would have gone mad.

I, being I, tried to move on, taking inspiration from Robert Frost, who once said something to somewhat similar effect. I decided to buy a new pair of headphones. The music, I reflected, had to keep playing. My mental fortitude continued to surprise me. I never thought I had that in me.

I checked an online retailer for a pair I had my eyes on for a long time. As soon as I was going to buy it, I noticed the minimum order amount had been increased to a sum which I regarded as ridiculous. It meant that I had to pay a lot more than the actual price of the earphones. I sat looking at the computer screen. It was as if the entire universe had conspired against me. I plummeted into depression. The cussedness of the world was too much. They were situations like these, I thought, that drove men to insanity.

I crawled back to my bed, using the last vestige of strength I had left in me. I felt as good as dead. Then, suddenly it appeared to me, as if in a vision. I realised I could use my mother’s earphones, hardly used and having sound quality comparable to the ones now deceased. I wasted no time. I rushed to my mother’s room, took those earphones and plugged them into my music player.

It felt like manna from heaven. My ears flooded with sweet, sweet music. I felt rejuvenated, reborn. My mind felt at ease and my brain shut up. Lying down, I slipped into a blissful sleep.

                                                                                                                                               15thMarch, 2013


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