And I happily lose myself to a voice that sounds like auditory perfection, mesmerised really. But then I relax. I smile. I can almost hear the smile in his voice and I marvel at the magic of telecommunications. I remember when I was a little kid and Dad used to attend conferences in Delhi or Calcutta and we would have to place what we called a 'trunk call' to get through to him and then it wasn't much of a real conversation but consisted mostly of yelling out niceties and assurances of safe arrival as if to someone at the other end of a small-sized football field. That scene from a Harry Potter book where Ron shouts into the phone to make sure his voice carries to Harry through the phonelines has me in splits every time I read it.
But now, I cant help exulting over how lucky I am to exist in this 'golden age' to put it in particularly purple prose. I wondered if my happiness was out-of-proportion with a mere phone call. But then, I realised I didnt care how daft my thoughts sounded, even to me. It was the most wonderful happy floaty feeling to hear G.'s crisp and clear intonations in his dear deep voice over the phone after what must have been months since we last talked. I was so overwhelmed that for the first several seconds I couldn't say anything of any real import. I think I just laughed a great deal because I felt positively giddy with joy.
It is amazing how vividly our minds can connect a unique phrase or a known peculiarity of wording with the exact expression a friend's face will bear at the time of uttering it.
M.'s text messages are much the same. I know the exact way she would scrunch her nose and screw up her eyes with that characteristic expression of puzzlement when her text contains the words "I simply dont remember where I kept my microbio journal."
And I know the exact look of cheerful delight that G.'s face wears when I hear him say, "It is wonderful to hear your laugh again." I wonder if it works both ways, this lovely little conjurer's trick our minds pull.
I once watched a rather fascinating anime film called Voices of a Distant Star that chronicled a literally very long-distance relationship between two close friends who communicate across interstellar space through their phones writing each other emails and as they move further apart from each other, the time-lag it takes for their messages to reach the other increases relentlessly, and towards the end they have 'conversations' poignantly spanning years.
And thus, there is great comfort to be derived from knowing that while those you love are distant in space, they are wonderfully immediate in time and that atleast while their touch cannot be felt, their warmth can.
I remember the same feeling flooding me years ago, when Dada made his first international phone call home and we were all so stupidly excited to learn a basic geographical fact, that while it was early evening here, it was dawn there and we spent the precious first few minutes enthusiastically acknowledging it, even forgetting to ask him about his first international airplane flight.
Thus, the vastness of our planet becomes suddenly obvious to one and the idea of a loved one sent out somewhere in that incomprehensible vastness is unnerving, even frightening. I must say, I am rather glad they invented satellites and email while I'm still alive. Carrier pigeons and smoke signals would probably just not cut it. :)