Night opera

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 08, 2019

“I’m going to sleep early,” I say to Bins. “What time are you setting the alarm?” he asks. “5.30 am,” I say. I’m already fully packed and I’ve gone to sleep fully clothed — so that in the morning I’ll only need to put on my shoes. I’ve brushed my teeth twice — so that I don’t need to do it in the morning. I’ve drunk my morning tea at midnight — because otherwise I’ll never be up in time to catch the 6.35 am bus.

Bins and I are on our way to spend the weekend with my sister in Hartford. We’re taking a new route this time. It’s cheaper and faster too. The only problem is waking up. I’ve never been an early riser but, nowadays, I never seem to fall asleep either. Every night, when I turn off the lights and shut my eyes, instead of falling asleep, I go to the opera. There’s always a new drama. Tonight, for instance, the drama is about the graphic software I use for creating drawings on my computer. It has begun to misbehave.

Not only has it stopped functioning but a message keeps popping up on my screen. “Why are you seeing this message?” the pop-up asks me. “Because you might be using an unreliable version of our software,” it continues, in what I feel sure is a soft, velvety-smooth voice. “Please call this number —” Aaargh! Panic! I show the message to Bins. He immediately falls over laughing. “You worry too much! It’s nothing! Ignore it! Throw it away!”

But, of course, that’s the last thing I can do. I lie cocooned in my nice warm comforter, fretting about the software. In my mind, I see it wriggling with worms and viruses. In time it will infect my computer, crawl out through the USB ports and poison my phone, my electric toothbrush, the city’s water supply and all the world’s oceans. I have, of course, uninstalled the software and turned my computer on and off. But the message still persists. And now how will I produce my graphics?

I toss and turn. My thumb joint is hurting. My throat is sore. Omigosh, it’s 3 am! If I sleep now, I’ll be in deep coma when the alarm goes off! And I still have no idea how I’ll do any drawings for this column or my Suki strip if I no longer have any graphics software. At 4 am, I sit up in bed. Using my iPad, I Google-search for leading graphics free-ware. I find one called GIMP. I download it to my laptop and try a couple of tutorials. Whee! It works!

At 4.30 am I fall asleep. At 5.30 am the alarm goes off. At 6.30 am Bins and I leave the house. We take the 6.35 am RIPTA bus to Providence. The 8.25 am MBTA commuter rail to Boston. The 10.15 am Greyhound to Hartford. At 1.35 pm, ta-daaaa! We’re in Hartford. All is well! Till tonight.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on November 08, 2019
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