Then comes the plateau stage, where the pleasure changes to a quotidian thing, the communion lasting for several hours (with breaks, of course, for food, coffee etc), but something you also take for granted – the supple, attentive response still assumed from the first touch of the day to the last. Apart, you suffer abject missing, when people close by you note – shamefully – how deep-rooted the addiction is inside you. And yet, you recognise yourself as being happy.
Others, in clearly lower level, less glorious relationships, receive rude advance notice of things starting to go wrong. They get time to make arrangements to protect what is most precious to them. But you, hypnotised in this high-maintainance tango, only feel the searing pain when the stiletto heel pierces right through your foot. When you take yet another bite of the fruit that was sweet, crunchy and fresh till just a moment ago and its core kicks you in the teeth.
By now you know this will happen every six to seven years. Your deepest brain starts expecting it, your fingertips try to ignore the oh-so-subtle signs, your eyes avoid seeing the almost invisible danger flags, and then one day – boom – you’re done, you’re had. What you loved so intensely has now done the jobs on you.
‘Data is all backed up?’ The man at the authorised service centre asks. You nod unconvincingly, trying to remember when you last saved to the external drive. The man catches your self-doubt and turns the knife. ‘Your machine is now vintage. We cannot get any spare parts. Plus, you were using a second party charger?’ Yes, because the original charger costs as much as a Ferrari door handle.
‘Well, there’s nothing we can do.’ This said with a sadistic smirk for which they must have sent detailed training videos from the Dark Fruit Company headquarters in California.
So, you send your 61/2-year-old ‘vintage’ to the other city, where your main Overcoat Man sits. He refuses to give you much hope. The newer your laptop, the harder it is to repair. In the earlier models, you could replace the hard disk and some other parts, add RAM, and so forth. The more recent the model the more impossible all this becomes, because that’s how Dark Fruit designed them.
Overcoat Man is plaintive: ‘Bilkul latest waaley mey toh kamino ney aisa kar diya hai, ki ab koi bhi pirated programmes aap nahi daal saktey!’ At least not the video and photo editing programmes. Well, I don’t really need those right now. As for text production, I’m licensed to Word, and with extreme prejudice, since you ask.
Again, that lust for slave-like dependency rises, like in some Italian film with the word ‘Ossessione’ in the title, or like some Japanese mutual-harakiri-erotica flick, called Ai No Retina. How much do the new Dark Fruits cost? You go to their website, you ogle, you check out the specs, you swipe right, you swipe left, and you finally arrive at the perfect match.
Oh. For that MRP you could buy half an SUV or small flat in, I don’t know, Yellapur. It’s so angry-making you almost want to refenestrate yourself. Forget the extortionate price, shove aside the meticulously calibrated obsolescence, this bastard drug in hardware form, the forebearers of which were sweatily and furtively procreated in some suburban American garage, tightens its grip on your memory and imagination. Yet again.
Overcoat Man takes two weeks to find cannibalisable spare parts. You are lucky because your machine is just old enough to be recupertinoed. The courier delivers it. You set it up and it seems to be working okay. Compared to borrowed laptops you’ve been using, it’s hugely pleasurable even.
And yet, the thrill is gone. You never know when it might cheat on you again. And you, you’re already being unfaithful, dreaming of the pain the newest model could deliver.