Read Only Memories

“It’s about time you change that phone of yours. Come on, it’s a frickin’ iPhone 3G!”
“But it’s served me well!”
“Half your screen is dead, your home button doesn’t function anymore and you can’t adjust your phone’s volume!”
“I can still text and make calls, that’s what matters!”
“You might as well be using an old Nokia then, come on. I’ll give you my old phone. It’s rooted and I’ve got a custom ROM on it so it’s speedy and battery life is still great.”
“But I’m so used to my iPhone!”
“I’ll install an iOS-like launcher for you, but trust me you’ll never want to go back to an iPhone after moving to Android!”
“How much are you getting paid, shill?”

I laughed in response. “Chill here for a bit, I’ll head to my room to grab the phone.”

I opened the drawer next to my desk and found the phone in its original box, untouched since I switched to a new phone. I hopped onto my bed and powered it on. It was still holding a charge. Great! I thought to myself.

The phone booted up quickly, as I promised. Time to replace the launcher (I told myself reluctantly – at least it’ll be used instead of collecting dust in my drawers).

I loaded up the app store and realized that my account was still logged in. Huh, I thought I wiped this phone before I upgraded. I guess I should see what else is lying around in storage.

I hit the gallery app – over three hundred photographs. Photos from my trip to Cambodia. Pictures of my new work place. Random signs which I found hilarious at the time. My dog. My nephew. Her.

My heart skipped a beat. I didn’t know I still had photographs of her on my phone. It was taken while we were still happy – as evident by the large smile on her face and her head pressed against my cheek. A total contrast from our final days together when things didn’t end very amicably.

I continued scrolling through my photo gallery. There were no other pictures of her but everything else became a blur. I scrolled back to our picture and looked at it again. Better times.

I exited the app and opened my messages. Texts from my friends, family, and sure enough – my chat log with her.

> Hey, how are you?
> The same - just busy with work as usual. How about yourself?
> Likewise. I recently switched jobs, so I've been keeping busy trying to fit in.
> Oh, I didn't know that - I thought you were happier at your old place?
> Yeah, well I felt like I needed a change of environment.

I scrolled up a few screens.

> You're the cause of everything terrible in this world. You're a cheat, a fraud. I fucking hate you. I hope you die.

I paused for a bit. I remembered the exact moment I received those messages. Even though it was no longer a surprise, it still stung. I scrolled up some more.

> I can't promise what I can't keep.
> You're selfish. You have no feelings. You need to learn to have empathy.
> I'm sorry.

I was a terrible person then. Not in the sense that I murdered babies or put candies on the windscreens of cars – but I really was an apathetic human being. I couldn’t put myself in the shoes of other people. I couldn’t even begin to try to understand how other people felt about things I hadn’t been through myself – and I admit I still can’t. Maybe it’s something I was born with (or without). I’m still trying but I don’t think I’ve improved that much in that aspect of my life. The funny thing is, I don’t really care if people don’t understand how I feel. I only cared about myself.

> You know, you're the only person who's made me reconsider my stance on marriage. Nobody else has ever done that.
> Aww.
> I love you.
> I love you too.

Who said romance was dead?

> Thanks for the wonderful company. I really enjoyed spending the weekend with you.
> Remember to not sleep too late!
> Alright! Just one or two games of dota and I'll be in bed.

Many years on and I’m still addicted to that damn game. I guess things don’t really change.

> Hey, I really enjoyed tonight.
> Do you say that to all the girls you meet?
> No, just the ones I really had fun with.
> :)
> I mean it! Anyway, I'll see you soon.
> Goodnight
> Goodnight

> Umbrella on our second date, wasn't that romantic?
> Haha.
> I know right? I purposely made it rain so that I could walk you to the car.
> Oh shut up, you!

Words. How powerful little alphabets strung together to form words and sentences can be. In the span of a few minutes, I went from not thinking about her for months to reminiscing about all the things we used to do. They painted a clearer picture of what we went through than any photograph could have ever done.

Which got me thinking about memories on social media – nobody ever sees the ugly side of your life. They see what you want them to see and it’s usually all the pleasant things. After all, nobody likes to share horrible memories.

“Oi! George, are you getting the phone or having a wank in there?”
“Sorry, I’m coming out soon! Just need to wipe it so you don’t see all my sex videos.”
“Come on, you have nothing to hide from me, I’ve heard everything about you!”
“Oh shut up!”

This exercise was getting a little too heavy for me. I silently breathed a sigh of relief for the distraction and closed the text app. Enough of recollection. I did a quick check of my notes app (mostly just lists of tasks which remain unfinished till this day) and closed it.

Satisfied that there was nothing else of value worth saving (the photographs I wanted to keep were already backed up in the cloud), I hit settings -> additional settings -> factory data reset. With the phone in hand, I grabbed a spare micro-USB charger I had lying around and headed into the living room.

“There’s still a charge on the phone, so you can put your SIM card in to use it now – just wait for the reset to be finished.”
“I wanted those sex vids so I could upload them to xvideos!”
“Too bad. Haha. Anyway, enjoy your Android phone.”
“I’ll try!”

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