Are You There? by Indu Balakrishnan

To some, this question might scream of insecurity. Of fear. Of worry. But to me, it brings a feeling of reassurance for both the person asking the question, as well as the person at the receiving end. More often than not, this is said on the call when the signal is weak. 

But sometimes it’s just another way of asking – are you there with me? Life is always beautiful when you have someone with you. Now, I’m hardly thinking about a romantic lover or a companion. It could be anyone. A friend. A confidante. The feel-good-feeling that comes when the answer to the question is ‘yes’ is absolutely priceless. 

And then there is the cry for help to the Lord and Almighty. A cry of helplessness and despair. Now religion is more faith than fact. So the question does make sense on many levels. I have never really asked that question. I just go with my faith and believe He’s there. 

Unless you are home alone and have just watched Annabel or something. Then, you most definitely do not want to hear a reply to the question. Unless you are feeling lonely. Then a horror movie might remove the feeling that you are alone. Good or bad, you decide. 

And then when I’m in the bathroom minding my own business, I hear that question at least once in three days. Sometimes followed with “what are you doing” and “how long are you planning to be there”. A question that is answered with a “JUST A MINUTE”. A totally pejorative act, if you ask me. 

I tend to blackout once in a while. When I’m engrossed in my work, I tend to block things out. It’s a blessing in many ways, but it puts me at the receiving end of the question quite often. I have a standing rule. If you are talking to me, you say my name. Else not only would I not respond, but I’d also not even register what you are saying. Call me the Human Alexa of sorts, if you’d like. My rules are simple. Please do not talk to me unless you address me by my name. It’s verboten. 

The only time I ask that question is when the house is silent. And I know that the kids are home. I’d rather they make noise and make merry. This silence is not only deafening; it is terribly scary. Either they are up to something naughty or .. ok there is no or. 

The other time I ask the question is when I do not get a reply to my messages. And I find that insulting. So, when I ask the question – are you there – it’s not because I want to know WHERE they are. It’s an indirect but polite way of asking – “why the hell haven’t you replied to my message”.  And that’s precisely what I think when I type out “Are you there”. 

Last but not least, when I make my kid do maths. I ask her the question to see if she has reached the solution. If she has understood the problem. If she is there yet. 

And the bigger question that we need to ourselves is – are we there? Where do we want to be? Is that a question that we ask ourselves every night before we go to sleep? 

A more profound question – should we? 


  1. Terrific post. Loved reading it end to end.

    It arrested, engaged and drew me in.

    Not a lot of writing does that to me these days.

    And the bigger question that we need to ourselves is – are we there?

    For me, I’m not there – yet. I’m getting there . . .

    I love whatever road I’m traveling on. At the moment. I always stop to admire the growing rose bush in bloom.

    Then I (sort of) remind myself. There’s always something prettier just up ahead. Out of sight. Waiting to be discovered.

    I move on, expectantly.

    Secretly, I hope I never – get there. It’s too much of a termination. Like a .


    Ivan Bayross

    Liked by 1 person

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