‘I don’t know’.
One hour and thirteen questions later I was repeating the same three words.
But the two men in front of me didn’t seem convinced. They looked at each other and then looked at me. Their faces had lost that friendly sheen. A fine layer of annoyance had settled instead.
It was them against me now.
The actual problem was no closer to being solved. It simply languished in its own prison of oblivion.
‘Sir, if you want us to help you, then we need that piece of information.’
That piece of information was my mobile number. Ten digits that should have been stored in my memory. Three years were enough time to acquaint myself with them. But I had presumed there was no purpose in doing so.
There were two reasons behind this.
First – A mobile phone meant it was mobile and it accompanied me wherever I went. Why would I ever need to call myself? Hence, why memorize my number?
Second – All my acquaintances had stored my number under my name – John Malone – and it was their problem to recollect or retrieve it. I simply gave them a jingle the first time, announcing that the caller was me.
What else can a man do to convey his identity?
And I never handled personal paperwork or documents. My wife was the more adept one. So she always filled in my mobile number when and where required. I’m pretty sure she could recall my number.
I could call her and ask her. But that was the problem. My phone. It was gone. Lost in a huge theatre. Probably slipped out of my pocket while I was exiting with fellow audience members.
It now lay silent somewhere in the semi-darkness. The manager and guard had offered to give it a ring, but without a number, my smart phone was as good as dead. I don’t know what was so smart about it.
A useless gadget that couldn’t even cry out for help.
We had reached a dead end. The only thing I could do was go home and return with my wife. I told you, she’s quite clever. The manager had offered to call her from his mobile phone. But that was the second dilemma.
If I didn’t know my own number, do you really think I would know hers?
The two men saw me out. Their faces still plagued with doubt.
This made me want to shout. But I did something even better. I recited the square and cube of every number between one and hundred. When I was done, the two men looked stunned. Maybe impressed or simply distressed. I hardly cared.
What mattered was that I was a mathematical genius. Absolutely brilliant with calculations and numbers. But intimidated by my own mobile number.
Well too bad. No one’s perfect
Thank you, John Malone, for inspiring this flash fiction story. It has been running through my head from the past few days. Please check out John Malone’s writing. He’s a brilliant writer with a vivid imagination and beautiful writing skills.
Also read his story ‘Rusty‘. It inspired this flash fiction piece.
For some reason phone numbers are elusive.
So true. They are like background noise. There but not really there.
Thank you so much, Bharath. 🙂
This is such a modern issue, something so small but has a great negative impact when we are in need.
It really does. We don’t think about this issue much, but it’s something that can be a big bother.
Thank you so much! 🙂
You are very observant Terveen, this is a writer’s gift.
Cheers to you, me, and all writers. It’s a gift we must always cherish. Fist bump. Lol.
Hahaha, I didn’t expect that ending. A math genius. LOL. Actually now you remind me that many math people are very bad with memories. I guess the profession really count on logic only. No memory is necessary.
Nowadays, if one lose one’s phone, it feels like one lose a big body part. LOL.
People carry their phones around like they would a small baby. Haha.
Yes, I think different intellects are uniquely inclined towards certain patterns of learning. Well, this Math genius had to prove his point, and I think he did quite well.
Thank you so much! Your comments always add a shimmer of fun and much useful information. 🙂
I love how you take the simple every day, and create from there. We’ve all had this experience, and it is so frustrating, and funny, funny, at the same time. Well, maybe not in the moment, yet…. Lovely writing, as always, Terveen. 😊
I think technology has made everyone a bit too relaxed. So much can happen with just a click of a button. Effort and diligence have taken a backseat.
And when something like this happens, we can definitely look back and laugh, but not in the desperation of the moment.
Thank you so much, Jeff. 🙂
Mmm. Yes, this is so true. I completely agree, Terveen. You’re welcome, my friend. 😊
I am no mathematical genius but I used to carry my phone number in my wallet for a while. Never bothered to memorize it.
Well, then you are a genius. Never have thought of that. Quite clever.
Thank you so much! 🙂
Ha ha. This one made me laugh from the beginning to the end 😀
Haha. Thank you so much, Vignesh.🙂
😆10 digits are a hussle to memorize if its someone else’s that’s why we save numbers
yours though! i think he was straight stubborn 🤔
you just made my day
Haha. I think sometimes it’s just a way of thinking. What seems important and what can be kept on the side. But certain emergencies make one rethink these strategies.
Thank you so much!🙂
When I am asked for my number I just say “Your guess is as good as mine.” 🤣
Haha! That’s a good one. 🙂
thanks for posting this, Terveen; it’s an honor to get a new swag of readers 🙂
You are very welcome, John. Great writing deserves more readers. 🙂
I totally agree 🙂
I like what you’ve done to the original; it would be an interesting exercise, say, in a creative writing class to compare two stories with the same basis, a bit like comparing, say.Robyn’s version of ‘Dancing on MY Own’ with Calum Scott’s cover some eight years later: same song but oh! so different 🙂
Thanks so much, John. I was hoping you would like it. Often when we write, our perceptions and imaginations lead us to creating completely different worlds and characters, though the themes may be common. I think a comparative exercise would be so interesting. It could shed some light on the chaos that reigns inside a writer’s head.
Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂
“A useless gadget that couldn’t even cry out for help.” Brilliant allegory!
Seriously…what’s so smart about that? Haha.
Thank you so much! I appreciate it. 🙂
Who needs to be perfect? 😀
Thank you so much, Simon. 🙂
I know I’m not 😀 Always a pleasure…. 🙂
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Quite a profound tale, Terveen.
Often, the small things we neglect, bombard the biggest challenge.
It happens with almost everyone.
Last part was truly entertaining. “Math genius!” Wow!
I’m pretty sure that, Mr. John Malone will write their cell no. on a paper from now on.
You’re so right, Tanishq. We often neglect the small things, but when they blow up in our faces, we have to rethink our strategies. Happens to so many of us, time and again.
Yes, writing it down would be a smart option. So glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you! 🙂
You’re very welcome.😄
LOL. This was quite hilarious! To think he was a math genius but couldn’t memorize his own number!!! How we tend to take the little , important things for granted , isn’t it?! 😉😊
So true, Diana. It’s often the little things that come back to haunt us. And we vow to never neglect them but end up doing the same again. Haha. That’s life for you.
Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I appreciate it. 🙂
A simple story made very interesting!!!!!
Thank you so much, Poornima. 🙂
Glad you liked it.