‘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.