It was my finals at the university in the year 2012. I was a management student and I was due to submit my thesis. I had an ‘emachines’ laptop at that time. Don’t worry if you don’t know this brand, I didn’t until I was at cyber week. We belonged to a poor family and it was only the blessings of God that allowed me to go to the university. Those times I was aware of the privilege God had shown upon me. We never had a computer in the family actually, let alone a laptop. We didn’t have electricity either. Then how could I manage a laptop? I was on a government scholarship and I was given a meagre, but nevertheless a life-saving stipend. I used to save that money until I was able to gather Rs 19,000 after 2 years to buy a laptop. Unfortunately those days you couldn’t get one for below 25k.
Then came an extraordinary event, a major tech event within weeks of my need, where products were sold at huge discounts. The ‘emachines’ and another laptop were almost in the same price range. The other brand had Bluetooth but no wifi and the ‘emachines’ one had wifi but no Bluetooth. Those days, I didn’t even have a mobile phone, so I didn’t really know the difference. When we were there, trembling with this lifetime of my savings, lest anyone will steal it all and the uncertainty of which one to buy, mom said to take the Bluetooth one. I don’t know, but there was this constant voice in me that told me ‘no’, and I felt paralysed when I stretched my hands to the Bluetooth one. So we settled on the ‘emachines’ one. Thankfully we got a cheap laptop bag for free with it which we had a hard time fighting for and the discount to make it for 19k because it was selling for 19.8k something.
We still didn’t have electricity at home. We used to light candles and sometimes oil lamps. I used to go to the local social security centre to charge the laptop to do my projects and downloaded all my notes using wifi at the university. Those times I was going to the university in the morning and in the afternoon completing my diploma in music. So I had two dissertations to submit by the end. I was working hard on both, but the deadline for my management one was 3 weeks prior.
I was due to submit my project in two days. Everything was already ready, I only had to print in three copies. I was going through the final details of my dissertation with the layouts when the laptop restarted and would not boot up beyond the starting screen. I was devastated, I didn’t have any online copies of anything. I didn’t despair though because the laptop was still under warranty, I rushed to the shop and they told me that they’ll have to send it in for repair but nothing can be recovered from its memory. I felt the immense pressure, and I fervently prayed to God to help me else I would fail. I took the laptop back and they told me if I went to a third party my warranty would be void. Nevertheless, I took it to a repair shop and they told me that they’ll open it and extract the hard disk, but they weren’t able to give me a guarantee that the document will be recovered.
I took it back to the shop and they took it in and compassionately repaired it asap and gave it to me in the evening. But I had lost everything. The only solace I had was one day to submit the dissertation and every now and then I used to print pages of the dissertation in the free printing press at the university. I came home and started ASAP typing everything. There were so many things to do, typing everything from scratch, recalling items I didn’t have on paper, generating all the graphs, installing all the software, running back and forth for charging. Despite my optimism, I couldn’t submit the dissertation. I was not even halfway. Plus there was all the paperwork to go through. I just sat and typed until I saw nothing else and submitted it 4 days after the deadline with a penalty of 20 marks.
This is my real story. Those awful times are behind me now. I have struggled a lot. Good news, I have electricity now and a mobile phone, but my laptop is gone since last year. The costs of repairs were unjustifiable. I got a B for my thesis which saddened me and made me happy at the same time because the arithmetic showed that if I had submitted on time I would have got a straight A. I got an A+ in my music dissertation though!
If you are reading this story, know that never despair. You will see all types of discrimination around and you will question if there is God and justice in this world. Simple basic needs like electricity and water were something that we couldn’t afford because of the high costs of installation. We had barely enough to eat. Tears blur my vision remembering those times, yet don’t despair. With courage, persistence and love in your heart, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is always.
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