The Watchful Eye || Chapter 1 : A New Era

From :
To :
Subject : Are you feeling off lately.
Dear User,
For the past  couple of weeks we could not help but notice the sudden change in your posts. You no longer seem to be the happy cheerful person you used to be. You have also increasingly started visiting gloomy and depressing websites and have been listening to songs, which are normally used to pacify a crushed soul. However your relationship status has remained unchanged, something which worries us more. In order to protect you from further mental trauma we have notified the department of Human Welfare. They shall be contacting you shortly.
We care for each and every of our customer.
Also wishing your wife Roshi and two kids, Rohit and Rakesh a very warm Christmas.
Diana(The HumanWeb Bot).
The leading social networking website 20th century. 

When I was a kid I had asked my mother, “Ma will there be flying cars in the future.”. When she asked what I would do with one I had promptly replied, “I would encourage others to buy it so I can cruse on empty roads with ease”. Unfortunately I had ended up buying one and was now starring at the HUD(heads up display) as it scrolled through my morning mails. The mail was dated 7:00 24th December 2025, it had come this morning. As I entered the drive through cafe` I was not offered my usual hot cafe chino but instead a soothing cup of lemon tea. Had I changed my beverage preference on HumanWeb, I couldn’t remember, the memories of yesterday night were clouded. As I parked my car in front of the massive HumanWeb headquarters, situated on the outskirts of Pune as Hinjewadi had become too congested for any new building to be built. The building was massive, it had always been but today it did not seem all that inviting. It had lost all its appeal, the excitement I had felt when I had first seen the building five years ago was no longer there. Instead it was replaced by a strong urge to run away and never look at it again. In the meantime while I was lost in thought my car had taken the liberty of letting the whole word know that I had reached my destination safely. Car manufactures considered it a gentleman’s way to let the universe know how reliable and efficient their products were. As I walked to the front door wondering how the delicately woven web of social networking websites had replaced newspaper advertisements, a young boy shoved a paper in my face, not bothering to lower his voice despite the lack of physical proximity between us – “Sirji paper le lo na”, somethings never change. For all these years the newspaper had stayed true to its structure, the first page had a big article outlining how drop in financial stability had rendered many robot manufactures jobless, a nice pie chart depicting the increase in suicide rate of stressed service industry professionals and a photo of a man gleaming with pride for having successfully sued HumanWeb for privacy infringement.

As I took the air capsule, a capsule shaped successor of the elevator which glided on rails laid out on the external surface of the building, my mind preoccupied with the photo of the man radiating with pride. This had been the third case in a week  and the twelfth case this month. Nobody was worried though, as long as commercial giants considered us an effective advertising medium, the carpet under our feet was safe. With the morning newspaper neatly folded under my arm I made my way to a small door titled – “Lead Software Engineer, Shravan Aras.”. The once proud feeling which surfaced every time I saw the door sign had now completely vanished. I fell into my chair feeling rather exhausted only to be interrupted by Mr. Reddy. His worn out face made him look much older than he actually was, but then which software engineer did not bear that trait. As he made his way slowly through the door, not bothering to put up a fake smile, he seated himself on a chair opposite to my desk. His wrinkled shirt and sleep deprived eyes made no attempt to hide the fact that he had stayed up all night at the office. As he rested his head on my desk, looking at the LED window which currently flashed soothing images of a beach in Goa, his id card feel onto the floor. The worn out card had bared the same words for the past three years – “Marketing excutive, Mr. Kalpesh Reddy”. “Did you read the news today? Some maniac has managed to claim almost quarter million rupees, stating to the media that the mental trauma and social humiliation caused by us was irreversible. And then there is Diana ..”, Reddy sighed without lifting his head from the table. I had read only the headlines but I lied,”Yes, its bad for us. Investors are not giving in that easy, now that we are being heavily criticized by the media.”. However what bothered me the most was Reddy’s mention of Diana. Did he know? But how could he have know? I had received the mail today morning and daily archive list would not be out before evening break. With an uneasy tone I asked Reddy, “Who told you about Diana ..”. “Everyone knows. Its all over the internal newsletter”, Reddy interrupted. Beads of sweet were now starting to trickle down my spine but I waited for him to continue. “The phones are constantly ringing. Diana has reported over a million names to the Human Welfare department. Her circuits have finally fried I think. We are in big trouble Shravan, bigger than what we can chew upon”, for the first time Reddy looked up at me, his eyes were completely swollen. I wonder for how many nights he had not slept and for how many nights to come was I to be kept awake.

This is a pilot episode of the Saga Titled The Watchful Eye. Kindly stay tuned next week for chapter 2.

DISCLAIMER : Please not that all characters and names of organizations mentioned here are purely fictional. Relation to any object, place or person are purely accidental and non intentional.


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