With her coffee mug in one hand and her iSlate in another, Manju walked out into her balcony. Before settling on the beanbag there, she took a heart-fill’s view of the world spread out in front of her and below her. From her veranda in her aero-mansion suspended in the air, she had an arresting view of the bustling Akash Mumbai; with it’s traffic congested skyroads across varying atmospheric heights, sky-kissing concrete scrapers with glass facades dazzling at varying angles and every awe-striking sight expected from a bustling and thriving cosmopolis. (Akash means sky)
Settling into the beanbag, she put her iSlate on her lap and began sipping her coffee. She unlocked her screen which showed the time to be 14:23 and date as 13-Feb-2152. She clicked on a few icons on her screen and began browsing through the collection, when something hit her mind.
Quickly, she lowered the status screen, by putting a finger on the top of her screen and gently sliding a rack downwards. As she read the date again, her heart beat quickened. She knew that she had to check it out, just for confirmation. Or perhaps more.
It had been a week since she had first met him. Even last night he had been at her place.
She put her coffee aside on the small table next to her beanbag. On the table was a small USB cord that had the usual port connector at one end and a cloth strap at the other end. She plugged the port connector into her iSlate and wound the strap around her wrist. Within moments, the cybernetic implant in her mind got activated through the nerve receptors on the strap, which was now wound on her wrist. She was now mentally connected to the cybernet. She simply mouthed out aloud, “Browser, Open loveshack.com.” The browser in her iSlate opened up and the address was immediately typed out. Once the page loaded, she said “Love Measurer”, and icon by that name got clicked on the screen, opening up a new page.
As the page was loading, she retrieved a small circular device from her pocket. She put the circular device on side of her forehead and immediately hit the soft knob on the device. As always, as the device activated, she instantly blinked her eyes. Opening her eyes, she could feel no impulse in her head, whatsoever. That didn’t shock her, as it was the basic purpose of the device lovingly referred to as the ‘Concentrator’— it simply purged the mind of all thoughts and emotions, so the user could divert all psychic energy to the job of their desire.
She looked at her screen. Until the Concentrator had been connected, a small heart icon was throbbing on the screen and the number ‘499’ was shown next to it. She already knew that it normal state, that’s the average ‘love’ that any person had. Normal meaning, when someone was thinking about everything or something, consciously or unconsciously.
Now that the Concentrator had been activated, the heart had stopped throbbing and the reading was ‘0’.
In her mind, she began thinking about ‘Rinku’. On the screen, the heart started throbbing rapidly and next to it numbers rolled, like it were a jackpot machine display. The ‘Love Measurer’ was ascertaining her ‘love’ for her pet dog ‘Rinku’. After a few moments, the number stabilized at ‘533’. She got a brief recollection of what the unit was supposed to signify, and that information was also available on the screen. She didn’t care, for she knew that the scale went from 0 to 999 and higher the value, the more the love. Looking at 533, she arched her eyebrows. She had thought that she loved her doggie more than 533 hearts of love, but she knew that there was no arguing with the science.
She then thought, ‘Work’. On the screen, the heart started throbbing rapidly again. This time it took more than a few moments, and close to ten seconds later, it showed the number ‘610’ and the heart was beating normally. She arched her eyebrows. She had expected to love her work lesser than that. However as the Concentrator began retrieving images, thoughts, memories, related emotions of her workplace; Manju felt that she probably did love her work that much.
Finally, taking a deep breath, she thought ‘Anthony’. On the screen, the heart started throbbing rapidly again. The heart kept beating and the number’s in the reader kept rolling. Meanwhile, the Concentrator flushed her mind with everything she had in there, which was bio-emo-labelled ‘Anthony’.
In her mind, Manju saw the first time Anthony had come in front of her eyes, and that emotion washed through her again; she saw her having coffee with him; she then remembered the first time he had touched her hand, and the way electric pulses throughout her nerves had short-circuited; she then recollected their first kiss, their first dance together, shopping with him, his smiles, his intelligent rebuttals, his eyebrow-arching, the texture of his skin, the way his fingers moved over her belly, the way he kissed her with unabashed passion, his stroking her hair when they were in bed, his serving her coffee today morning whilst she was still in her bed…
All of these thoughts had accomplished what they normally did– putting a big wide smile on her face. She looked at her screen, which was still busy with the calculations.
She looked at the small stopwatch at bottom-right hand corner of her screen and with a surprise she realized that the machine had been working for the last 9 minutes 58 seconds. She knew the maximum time of measurement was 10 minutes.
Two seconds later, an error message popped up on her screen. She read it: We are sorry. We are unable to determine the amount of love you have for ‘Anthony’. Our measurement scale is insufficient to gauge it. Cases like this are scientifically referred to as ‘True Love’.
Manju’s smile was not going to stop, as she realized what she wanted to do on 14-Feb.
Abstract: Employing the tropes of science-fiction, this romance fiction piece, set in a futuristic India; follows Manju’s afternoon as she tries to measure how much she loves her heartthrob.
Forthcoming at YourStoryClub.com