Once upon a time…. Yuck! What was I thinking? Well forget it. This is about the time when I created my first email account. It has just been 5 years now. I had just finished my Class 10 and my admission for Class 11 or we what we call here in Karnataka as 1st year PUC was over. There was this scholarship that I wanted to apply for and I got to know about it the last day. And there was another problem. The application had to be filled online!
Is that even a problem you may ask. It was a big problem. It wasn’t the time of smartphones where you could do all your work on the go. Forget smartphones there wasn’t even a computer in my house that time. The only place where I got to use computers was in school. There were a few internet cafes but none close to my house. That’s one of the disadvantage of not living in a big city. Since it was around 6 in the evening mom told that she would accompany me to the internet cafe.
I will never forget what followed. No sooner than we walked a little away from the house, it began to rain. It was pouring cats and dogs. We decided to take hire an auto rickshaw but there weren’t any in the stand. It was good that we had our umbrellas with us. And in the end we had to walk all the way to the internet cafe. A good 2 km walk in the rain.
I think the whole universe was conspiring against me at that point of time. As soon as I reached the internet cafe, there was a power cut. And the inverter there just wouldn’t start. What to do I had no clue! (Did I just try to rhyme it there?) Since it was raining all the more heavily we had no option but to stay back. I was so angry. Damn the rain! Damn the clouds! Damn the roads! Damn the autos! Damn the computers! You get the drift! “Reema, pray for the power supply to be restored”, said mom. But would I pray? “Where has God been all this while? Can’t He see how much I need the internet now?”, I retorted. Mom didn’t say anything to me. And luckily maybe God heard mom’s prayers or saw my impatience and there was power.
One more obstacle successfully overcome. I switched on the computer and opened the browser and stared the screen. Because that is all I knew about using the internet. They had never thought us how to use the internet in school. I suddenly remembered something and fished out the little paper containing the URL of the scholarship website. I could still decipher my writing despite the fact that the paper was wet from the rain. I filled in all my details. Name, Age, DOB, Parents names, etc. And then proudly filled the column where they asked for my Class 10 percentage. And then came the column where I didn’t have anything to write and that was where they asked for my email address. I didn’t have one! I tried clicking next but then it wouldn’t go further. The email id was mandatory.
Looking at my blank face mom asked what happened and told me to take the internet cafe uncle’s help if I didn’t understand something. But would I ask? No I wouldn’t. My ego wouldn’t let me to. I had heard about Google and gmail. So typed that in the search box. Somehow manged to understand what is to be done. Then started filling the relevant fields in that create account option. It asked for a user name. reemadsouza I typed. Already taken. reemamdsouza- already taken. And I tried a dozen more combinations but nothing worked. Finally decided to use my middle name. And with a few more tries and some numbers included it got accepted! Yippee!
But my ordeal wouldn’t end yet. It had just started. The next field was password. Not my name at least. Decided against my parents names as password as well. I thought of using my brother’s name as my password. But then if he ever got to know about it, he would have two big horns on his head. Mind it he already had small ones and I didn’t want to let those horns grow. School name- too simple. What about my secret crush? Couldn’t! Mom was right there watching my every single key press. I finally decided to keep the name of my favourite book. But then “Password is too weak. Try including numbers, uppercase and special symbols”. Oh my God! What am I gonna do? I couldn’t come up with a great password. I had read in the newspapers about all those hackers and I didn’t want my precious account to be hacked.
I then remembered the coding and decoding that I’d learned for NTSE and applied that for my password. Ah! Finally it’s done! I was so proud of myself. Filled up the rest of the form and hit submit. There it was! Finally done! I wrote down the username and password on that same little piece of paper I’d written the URL. And finally got back home.
Later for a few days I didn’t think about my email. And one day when I was reading the newspaper I came across the word “email”. I suddenly remembered about the little piece of paper- my treasure! I didn’t know where I had kept it. I searched the whole house but it was of no use. I remembered that I had not taken out the piece of paper from my pocket. I ran to mom and asked her about the jeans I’d worn that day and whether she found a piece of paper while washing it. She told no and asked me to check it myself. I pulled out that jeans from my cupboard, searched my pockets and there it was- all crumpled and in pieces! All my efforts were in vain! 🙁