It was during a summer vacation, when my neighbour Mr. Vohra's mother who used to live in some remote village of their hometown, came to visit them. The whole family gathered around the dining table to have dinner with their elderly guest. As usual the teenage kids of the family were busy chatting with their friends.
"Do you like the curry that I have prepared Sonu," Grandma asked her 13-year old grandson. "Hmm...” Sonu nodded, as he typed a message to a friend with whom he was chatting with his left hand while having food with the right one.
"Don't talk while you eat, Meenu." Grandma instructed her 16-year old granddaughter who was talking to her boyfriend over the phone. "Just a second, grandma." Meenu whispered as she signalled her Grandma to remain silent. "Why don't you tell her, bahu?" Grandma turned to her daughter-in- law. "Yeah sure," she said as she checked latest deals on saris on online shopping sites.
"Do you have a minute, Mahesh?" Grandma looked gloomily at her son who was busy in a conference call. "Ma, I'm discussing the details of a whooping business deal with my boss. If everything goes as expected I'm going to make it big...really very big!" He said with glowing eyes.
As everyone was busy in their own worlds and nobody was interested in talking to her, she quietly ate her dinner with a weeping heart. Grandma retired early to bed while all other members were still busy connecting with the world around them. A little later, Grandma felt a deep stabbing pain in her chest.
"Mahesh!" She called out but her son was busy dealing in crores on the conference call with headphones over his ears and turned a deaf ear to his mother's persistent cries.
"Bahu!!" Grandma wailed as her pain aggravated. But Mrs. Vohra, who was chatting over the phone, sharing her happiness of stumbling upon huge discount offers on some of the online shopping sites, also didn't listen to the cries of the helpless old woman.
"Meenu! Sonu!!" Grandma called out grasping for breath.
Meenu was still in midst of a late night date with her boyfriend over the phone and Sonu was watching a movie on the internet with ears tightly stuffed with earphones. Neither one of them could listen to the wails of the old lady.
"Mahesh, wake up Mahesh," Rachana urgently rocked her husband to wake him up the next morning. "What's wrong with you Rachana?" A sleepy Mahesh complained. "Not with me," she said nervously, "but with your mother." They rushed her to a hospital at once.
"I'm sorry Mr. Vohra," Dr. Mukherjee said, "She’s no more. She has suffered a major heart attack yesterday night. If you had brought her a few hours ago, we could have saved her life. What were you guys doing the whole night?"
That was the question which made the Vohra family hung their heads in shame.
Now, they have limited the use of all the means of communication as much as they could. Now, they laugh and chat only with each other whenever they gather around the dining table for having meals.