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Emotions versus emojis

Emotions versus emojis

By Suresh Pattali

Published: Fri 4 Oct 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 Oct 2019, 9:52 AM

As I came home late, after Hazzaa AlMansoori docked with the International Space Station on that historic day, I wondered if I had literally wandered into a celestial house of tolerance. In the dimly-lit living room, Shirdi Sai Baba, the Indian saint revered by millions of Hindus and Muslims, peered from a framed image on the wall, which, till that morning, looked as vacuous as wifey's sense of interior decoration. He sat on a boulder with one leg on the other and the right hand raised in an act of blessing.
Hung in the little lobby was an image of Jesus, with a seraphic smile and his right hand raised in a sublime gesture. In our bedroom, the photo of a couple locked in a steamy embrace had been replaced with Lord Krishna with his right arm raised.
In the children's bedroom, the racy poster of Lady Gaga, our paying guest in the otherwise empty space, was out. In was an image of Guru Nanak. His saffron robe and snow-white whiskers, along with a raised hand, beamed a divine radiance.
What's happening? I waited till Her Majesty woke up next morning. As I rubbed out the vestigial sleep from my eyes, she appeared as normal as ever with no signs of aura around her. Then she dropped a bombshell. "You are so poor," she said, as she lay on her belly, her legs up and swaying like a pair of wind-swept palm trees.
"No one expects me to be rich after living with you for 40 years and two children passing out as doctors," I shot back in between sips of Darjeeling tea.
"What I meant was digitally poor, not tech savvy," wifey explained.
"When did you acquire this enlightenment? Your handphone is so cluttered with apps either in duplicate or triplicate. You don't even know how to clean them up. And you are accusing me of digital solecism?"
"Your social media conversations are so uninspiring. You type long-winding sentences on WhatsApp. You type 'Thanks' when you can use an emoji loaded with the equal feeling. Who in the world would type a boring 'hahahhaha' when you can do it with a sexy smiley? Grow up, Suresh."
I thought for a second. Is that the reason my chats with women folk do not last more than a minute? Am I such an unromantic bore? "It's not a sin to be emoji illiterate. My children don't use emojis in their conversations with me. I have brought them up linguistically enabled," I argued.
"Dumbo, they don't send you emojis because you wouldn't know the meanings. Can you differentiate between the scores of smileys, for example?"
My answer was a long silence at the end of which I asked, "By the way, what's your favourite emoji?"
"A wink," she said. And a real wink she threw swished past my heart. "It's so funny. You can also get away with a nasty remark if you throw a wink emoji at the end. It's a digital way to wriggle out of a piquant situation. What's your favourite, boss?"
"The heart. Pink heart. It's a feel-good thingy."
"I know, buddy. But you are in a fool's paradise. You thought the scores of hearts girls send your way mean anything?"
"I don't. You are right for once. By the way, what are you doing with the old Amar Chitra Katha storybooks?"
"Looking for ideas. The world is researching for a new emoji. Mr Journalist, read newspapers. I have joined the campaign #forgivemoji. In November, the campaign team will decide on the best idea and send it to the Unicode Consortium."
"Oh, I see," I said, feeling like in the bottomless pit of ignorance.
"Didn't you notice the new posters on all the walls? What's common in all of them?"
"They all have their hand raised," I pointed out.
"What do they say?"
"I bless you. Maybe I forgive you."
"There you are: I forgive you. This is my answer to the #forgivemoji campaign," she said, oozing newfangled confidence.
"You are so brilliant, darling."
"You know how many times I forgive you in a day? Every time you mess up things, like last week's sambar tragedy, you say, I am sorry; and I say, I forgive you. Come November, I will make this home a gallery of Forgivemoji posters, and give some rest to my tongue."
As I strolled towards the kitchen looking for breakfast, the glance of Jesus in the lobby stayed in my heart.
"Lord, please forgive her for her digital sins, Amen."
He threw a naughty wink at me.

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