Although Kamini has only studied till class five, she quickly got the hang of sending audio messages before her life turned upside down, reports Geetanjali Krishna.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
At a time when almost every driver, plumber or househelp I meet is a school dropout but has been to the hallowed University of WhatsApp, I find it fascinating to observe how people like them, many of whom aren't fluent in reading and writing, are interacting with one another online.
They are posting videos, sending voice messages and using emojis, using voice and pictures to replace the more conventional text.
I got thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when I found Kamini sobbing into her sari pallu.
She had just discovered that her husband of 30 years had been cheating on her.
When I sympathised, she launched into the age-old lament of having given him the best years of her life, borne him three children and contributed handsomely to the family coffers -- only to discover that he had secretly married a woman who was barely a couple of years older than his daughter.
I asked her how she'd discovered her husband's infidelity and this is what she told me.
"Last month, my son who has just got a raise at work, bought me a smartphone," she said.
"Till now, I only had a dabba phone and this was such a welcome change."
The phone came preloaded with Facebook Lite and her son downloaded Hike Messenger and WhatsApp for her.
Although Kamini has only studied till class five, she quickly got the hang of sending audio messages and followed her children's lives through the videos they posted.
Then, she sent her husband a 'friend request' and life as she knew it, disappeared in an instant.
"I saw that my husband had posted some very flattering pictures of himself online," she said, "but assumed that was natural."
In the next few days, she realised that he was 'liking' videos posted by a woman she didn't know.
"I asked him who she was," she said tearfully, "and he replied that he had randomly sent her a request to connect in the quest for more Facebook 'friends'."
She found this suspicious and, with the help of her son, accessed that unknown woman's profile.
To their stupefaction, they discovered that her profile picture had ostensibly been taken at her wedding -- with Kamini's husband!
Kamini and her son spent the day looking at that woman's various social media accounts and learnt that she had married Kamini's husband about 15 years ago.
She had posted videos of the happy couple celebrating festivals, dancing on New Year's Eve and even worse, with two teenage children.
There was nothing much that Kamini's husband could say when she presented him with the damning evidence, except that his second wife's obsession for posting videos online and getting 'likes' had finally boomeranged.
Kamini fought bitterly with her husband that night and woke up to find that the 'other' woman had sent her a 'friend' request!
She'd also texted her two emojis -- 'folded hands' and a heart.
Her husband helpfully told her that these meant that his second wife wanted Kamini to accept her.
More penitent emojis followed.
I asked Kamini how she responded.
"I chucked my no-good husband out of the house," she said tearfully.
"As for the other woman, I had no desire to engage with her so all I did was send a 'broken heart' emoji in response."