The Telephone “Before the telephone came to Magdaluna, Im Kaleem’s house was bustling at just about any time of day, especially at night, when its windows were brightly lit with three large oil lamps, and the loud voices of the men talking, laughing, and arguing could be heard in the street below—a reassuring, homey sound” Anwar F. Accawi (p. 46). It’s hard to imagine that a single device such as the telephone, albeit a breakthrough in technology, could change not only a person’s day to day life, but an entire village.
These men in the village experienced all of the luxuries the village had to offer at no cost, Im Kaleem provided the men with a place to gather for conversation, games, drinks and sexual services. The children used to hang around Ima Kaleem’s courtyard playing games waiting for a call down from some of the men requesting errands in exchange for money.
But that all changed once the telephone was installed, most of the men would now sit at Abu Raja’s store, “they were always looking up from their games and drinks and talk to glance at the phone in the corner, as if expecting it to ring any minute and bring news that would change their lives and deliver them from their aimless existence”. (p. 46) Exposure to the telephone not only affected the men in the village, but it also affected the women, children and their entire way of life.
I get very excited to hear about, read about or experience new technology, and I grew up surrounded by a constant emergence of technology, from pagers and cell phones to the home pc. I remember when we bought our first computer, they were just becoming a common household device, my dad came home from the store and asked me to hold the door open while he trucked in these huge boxes, I had never seen my dad so excited about struggling and sweating while moving things in the house.
I had no idea what was in those boxes, but I became curious and excited as my dad opened the boxes and removed all the packaging, taking everything out piece by piece. Watching my dad fumble around with the instructions and all the wires in anticipation of something big happening made me super excited and I had no idea what this even was. “You can do almost anything you can imagine with this thing” he said to me in a very animated voice. To me it just looked like a television sitting on a desk, I started to become bored of watching this spaghetti of wires get connected one at a time at a very agonizing pace.
My dad was determined and after what seemed like hours of running back and forth between the wires and the instructions, he looked over at me with a huge smile on his face as he powered the computer on. “I’m finished” he exclaimed, “now let’s see with this thing can do” he said. He wasn’t kidding, this was amazing, you could send electronic mail that could be opened by the other person instantly, you could listen to music, instant message, play games with someone from another country, it seemed that there was nothing this device could not do. It was limitless with opportunity and could take you anywhere your imagination would allow.
So I am not surprised that when this tiny village, that did not have the simple things in life such as a calendars, clocks or even running water, were so influenced by the arrival of the telephone. This gave the people new hopes and dreams, it gave them an opportunity to experience new things and find out what the outside world was doing and could offer. “Within a year, only the sick, the old, and the maimed were left in the village. Magdaluna became a skeleton of its former self, desolate and forsaken, like the tombs, a place to get away from”. Anwar F. Accawi(p. 7) The calls eventually came in as expected and people started leaving the village for new opportunities, some went into the army while others went to explore new jobs. All of them left looking for a better life than the one they had in the village. With new technology comes new opportunity, I’m not saying that newer is always better, but it can open you up to things you never thought possible. It can provide you with choices that you never had before. I believe in the end Accawi was happy with the way his life turned out but reminisced of how he loved his life as a young boy in the village.