What getting whatszapped in the middle of animated conversations feels like
People use WhatsApp to make the world a global village. My wife uses it as a weapon. A sort of mix of a bludgeon and a verbal sledgehammer. There we are sitting around chewing the fat in a friendly group and i am galloping along on one of my favourite hobby horses and enthralling my audience when the phone will light up. There is a message.
It is from my wife who is sitting 4.5 metres north north east from me and she is now studiously on her phone and pretending she is on another call. So i pick up my phone and it will say, can you shut up already, you are monopolising the conversation. Or, do not tell that boring old story again, everyone has heard it.
It is easy to be unsaddled by WhatsApp which becomes more like whatszapped because it stops you in your tracks. The other day we are having this animated conversation and the mobile makes that chirping sound and i see my wife put her phone down and look away and i know there is something whizzing down the ether and the message says, that’s Mani’s wife Leela, you are mistaking her for Freddie’s wife Pushpa and dropping big bricks, stop already.
WhatsApp is also a great way to wriggle out of a commitment. Pick up phone, message from wife: I want to go home. Now. The trick lies not so much in the message as in the subterfuge adopted to make it look natural. Like my wife will continue to fiddle with the phone to disenchant anyone who suspects we are communicating with each other, not that anyone gets fooled but the charade is mandated.
The recipient (mostly me) also has a role to play in that he has to camouflage his reaction. Those who have been long on the receiving end learn how to keep a poker face and not be daunted by the wifely rudeness or recrimination. Like if the message says, there is a spill of sauce on your shirt, you have to resist looking down for a minute because that would give the game away.
Often, to fill in that time gap you babble, sending out superfluous deceit. That was my cousin from Denver in Colorado (yes, they needed to know that). He is a doctor (riveting stuff, this). Lives there with his wife, she is also a doctor (that is an important piece of information, at least we are clear he isn’t living in sin).
Then, when enough time has passed, you look down and express your horror … (migoodness, i spilled sauce on my shirt, clumsy me). And from north north east your wife says, well, clean it up.