LOCKED OUT OF WEALTH, BIT BY BYTE (genre: realistic fiction)

By Neel Anil Panicker

Stephan assembled his planners, his calendars, his pens, pouches and post its before him on the desk, and stood over them like a general surveying maps.And as he stared at the motley assortment, every passing moment seemed like a lifetime of agony and pain so deep and overbearing that the 34 year old computer programmer felt a stab in his chest.With trembling fingers he bent down and stabbed the computer keys: irene@26janlilac.

Thud…thud…thud…the poor guy’s heartbeat ricocheted off the bedroom walls of the seventheenth floor Dreamzone Apartment Society that was the abode of the handsome bespectacled bachelor.And then, the rectangular flat screen tablet came alive with the capitalised words: SORRY, WRONG PASSWORD…You have only 1 attempt left.

His mother’s first name…his birthday, and the month that he met the love of his life, followed by her favourite flower…all kaput.

Stephan couldn’t believe what was happening.The guy who had all his life earned plaudits for his elephantine memory was struggling to recall the most the important thing in his life.A mere 16 digit password, and he couldn’t recall it!

It was insane.His eyes, hollowd and sunken, stared once more at the screen.As if to mock him further, the dreaded words still remained on the screen, running in the insult.More than the insult, the thought of losing $220 million was what rhat was turning otherwise calm and composed young man into a nervous wreck.Strange floating forty limbed multi-hued fire spewing monsters began to dance before his dazed eyes.As his pain showed no sign of abating, the words of his best friend at work, Tim came back to haunt him: Stephan, remember what you is wealth, even if they are in bitcoins that are locked in a digi locker. For God’s sake, don’t just rely on your memory, however fantabulous it may be. Please write down the password. God forbid, if you fail to remember the password, and expend all 10 attempts, the digital locker will forever wipe out all your wealth. And remember, some day, maybe years from now, these 7000 odd bitcoins that you have received by way of payment for that small work that you did for some fancy startup will be worth millions”.The words, now, recalled after a decade, hit him with the full force of a ten tonne truck.How prophetic! How very true! And how tragic! …the words rolled off his tongue in gasped whispers ala a silent soul searing scream.His fingers shaking like a deranged man’s, Stephan bent down and stabbed the very last attempt…lilacjan…

At that instant his phone rang.His gaze turned towards the phone screen.Dale Calling…His girlfriend…his heartbeat…the woman he loved with all his life…the girl he had exchanged rings with…the one he dreamed of spending the rest of his life with.

He pressed the receive tab.The words from the other end were a brutal stab straight into his heart: Steve, you better lay your hands on that money, or else, find yourself another girl.At that instant, he had his big moment of epiphany: Some women fall in love—not with the man, but his money.

As the brutal realisation dawned on Stephan, his fingers turned busy, he stabbed the remaining digits.

Stephan simply didn’t care about the outcome; he was beyond caring.



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