I rushed into the office, with a minute or two remaining to sign in. As I peered into the biometric machine, it glared back and barked “Your retina is damaged and needs correction! Use your finger instead!” I had forgotten about my eye problem due to consistent glaring at laptops and mobile screens and hastily placed a trembling thumb into the slot and ping! It was already late by 30 seconds! A large display “LATE” on the screen made me wince. “You fool”, my personal digital assistant screamed. I had fitted in the voice of my primary school teacher in it. Poor lady had no clue that her voice was being recorded while she spoke at length at today’s generation and its impending doom. I had snipped and used her voice for my personal assistant to reprimand me when I made a mistake.
What would happen when I grew old and my fingerprints faded? No retina scans, no fingerprints, what would be my identity then? “Your AADHAR will be adhar to you then. Now get to work, we don’t pay you to think of yourself!” thought sensors installed in office corridors hissed. Every minute of office time should be spent in thinking- about office work was the management policy, you see.
As I slid into my cabin and switched on computer, a box popped up, asking what I wanted for my lunch. As I remembered the hot bisibelebhath prepared my hardworking husband this morning, I pressed on “south Indian lunch”. A scream from my digital assistant screamed, asking me if I wanted to remain alert or doze off after lunch. I sighed as I pressed on some healthy meal option. The next question was what I wanted to do during lunch break- A Botox, an abortion, a hair-trim or get counseled. Why would an elderly lady requiring Botox need an abortion? I cursed under my breath before thought sensors caught on and quickly pressed “counselor”. I would have pressed spa or massage, if only they were available during lunch.
“They monitor what you do during lunch, so beware!” A helpful colleague had warned. If you go for Botox, you are narcissist, if you go for abortion, you are careless, if you go for hair-trim, you are obsessed with beauty and if you go for counselling, you are safe! If you need counselling, you are stressed and are doing your work well. You remember Mrs. X, who was as cool as a cucumber? Well, she had no high BP, diabetes, cholesterol, allergies or any stress related ailments. So, they sent her packing after annual check-up!” I shivered, remembering all the EMIs due each month. “ Alert!” sensors screamed, as did my digital assistant. A few efficient hours working gave way to tea break and I grimaced at the concoction served with some energy bars. What wouldn’t I give for a cup of sugary, milky chai!
The meeting at 3 pm was a torture. I sat through a long boring presentation, trying not to think of a cosy bed after a long drawn lunch. Mom was aghast as I picked at some salads in a restaurant while she gobbled a heavy meal. You work hard to eat this “soppu-sade (greens)? And what is that box which you carry every where? Digital assistant, is it? Can you not manage anything yourself? Do you need someone to switch on tv, play music and plan for you? Why don’t you ask it to pray for you, so that you lead a normal life? Well, you were lazy from childhood!” I almost thought of replacing her voice in the assistant. Then thought of it picking and chiding hubby dearest and gave up the idea. A tiny voice asked me if I hadn’t traded my life for EMIs but snubbed it immediately. The meeting concluded with the boss reprimanding that thought sensors had been working hard and had prepared lots of reports, which could work against us during annual appraisal.
“The boss has scheduled a meeting at 7 pm so would you like some dinner delivered to your place? There are discounted rates available” As the pop-up appeared on the laptop, I switched off the digital assistant, which would now berate me for having no work-life balance.