People are annoying. Nieces most of all. This little one grew up on her parents’ smartphones and she runs up to me every time she sees me using the computer.
Every time she shows up, she has just the one question to begin with.“Whatcha doing?”On my screen, there are two divisions. One has a list of titles in the Roman script.
Titles of books, movies, games, comics, media I’ve consumed. On the other side is a blank page.“Well, I was just about to-” I begin.“Is it work?” she asks.
“Yes it is, well, no, actually not quite,” I say.“Is it a game?” she asks, her interest increased by a few.“No, it’s not a game,” I say. I get what she’s trying to ask.
She wants to ask if it’s a fun thing. And it is, or I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s self-care.
But I can’t really explain to her the specifics of dealing with mental illness and having anxiety and depression trying to murder you day in and day out.
So I took the easy way out and said that it wasn’t a game, because it wasn’t. There was no winning condition.
“Whatcha doing?” she asked again, her eyes now fixated on me as she sized me up, tried to look for an opening.“Okay, so I’m transliterating these,” I pointed to the left column, “into these.
” I pointed towards the empty right column. “Well, okay, there’s nothing here yet, but there will be.”“Why are you doing it?” she asked.“It’s…” I was about to say fun, but I decided against it.
“It feels good to me. Doesn’t feel good to anyone else, but it’s your uncle’s special little thing.”“I have a special little thing I do to feel good too,” she smiled mischievously.
“What’s that?” I couldn’t resist.She beckoned me to come closer, and so I did, leaning in close to her. Cupping the side of my ear like it’s a secret, she whispered gibberish.
I looked at her a little incredulously. Children are stupid, I decided right then.“Okay?” I said.“Don’t tell anyone, okay?” she winked at me, and then looked at the screen again.
“Okay, I won’t,” I promised. “Now, I think I’m going to do this thing here.”“Can I watch?”I thought about it and decided there was no reason why she couldn’t, so I said okay.
She didn’t move, but waited patiently for me to do my thing.I began typing on the keyboard, transliterating each entry on the left into entries on the right.
Immediately, it felt soothing, like I was creating something, setting a gear in its place, making things work.
I transliterated entry after entry, and my niece finally got bored enough to run away without a word.
Later, I stepped into the kitchen for a glass of water and overheard her talking to her mother, telling her about the ‘trammation’ I’d been doing.
Her mother seemed a little surprised and confused at once, and looked at me with a mixture of bemusement and confirmation.
I just shrugged and went back to my room, and locked the door this time.Finally, no more anxiety.