My Digital Fortress

I devote countless hours of my time trying out severely twisted patterns in the 3×3 Pattern Gridlock that guards my android phone. Then, after narrowing down on the most convoluted combination, begins the process of further ‘entanglement’- introducing isolated mutations to the pattern to beat a potential hacker’s intuition and dismantle any lingering vestiges of predictability in it. A great deal of deliberation goes into this.

The resulting labyrinth is flipped horizontally (and the subsequent mirror image is given a quarter of a turn, if I deem it necessary) to get the final pattern, which takes me another 9 hours to master. My own Digital Fortress!

Beat that!

There was a time when I loved mocking my brother’s frequent, two-second ritual of tracing ‘L’s on his screen every time he picked up his phone or his screen dimmed out. I contended that I didn’t need a bothersome virtual sentry’s approval to use my own phone every five minutes or so, and took pride in the belief that I wasn’t wasting my precious seconds unlike my brother, forever hailed as the wiser sibling.

My bubble of condescension burst one day when someone, with fingers so nimble they could knit up a sweater with spider silk, fished my phone out of my back pocket. By the time it dawned on me, my WhatsApp DP was a revealing close up of my own sweaty posterior ( allegedly ‘mine’, mind you), some girls in my contact list thought me a lustful creep, a few – on a clear overdose of not-so-subtle overtures sent from my phone – had proceeded to block me, and let’s just not talk about the status update… Dozens of frantic clarifications later, I was prepared to rig my phone with a Million Volt Zapper coded to my fingerprints, barbed wire, an Iris scanner ready to release a swarm of testicle-eating nanobots in case of a mismatch, an IED, a nano-nuke and whatnot.

Reality set in and I realised I wasn’t James Bond and so, reluctantly, I became more open to considering the pattern Gridlock. In it lay the potential to confuse the predator, and so, I went ahead and laid the foundation stone for my first digital fortress. Though it was rather simple by the current benchmark, I was so sure of its intricacy that I felt no need to conceal it whenever I was keying it in. We even had open challenges to break my code. But then, the sharks began catching up, and  one nearly got through one day. That was my cue to evolve. Evolution called for relentlessly devising and testing newer pattern permutations – between study sessions, during study sessions and well, after hectic study sessions before bedtime. I’ve been constantly on the move since, and have made a name for myself.

Whoa! Do that again, Do that again…

“WTF!! What if you forget that!?!

My patterns elicit pure awe. Then there are people who approximate the complexity of my pattern to scandalous sexting habits, or worse, take my phone to be a repository of porn.

The pattern in use at present is an exception, I haven’t had to change it in over a year. It’s never been bested, and is by now committed to my muscle memory, so much so that I key it in with my eyes closed first thing in the morning.

But all of it came crashing this morning when, still in slumber, I placed my thumb on the screen, and froze. I couldn’t remember which way to wiggle it. I tried to think, and half-heartedly tried a sequence of lines I knew wasn’t the key. Within seconds I was up, my heart racing…

Please No…

Shock gave way to horror as I realised I had absolutely no memory of what my pattern looked like! Imagine stepping out of your house and getting lost in your own neighbourhood. Or not being able to drink because you’ve suddenly forgotten how to swallow! I started freaking out…

It wasn’t the idea of potentially losing all of my data… This ongoing brush with abrupt memory loss was far more unsettling. I found myself tensely contemplating the odds of having inherited the mental disorientation gene from my grand-dad, memories of his frightening idiosyncrasies and hallucinations flashing wildly before my eyes, and I freaked out even more.

My fortress had slammed its gates shut on me. And I was running late for class now. I figured that my best bet was my subconscious, muscle memory. That’d require an active suppression of my conscious mind. In other words, no panicking!

10 failed attempts and the phone blocked itself temporarily.

Take a break. Breathe in, Breathe out. Brush. Ablutions. Back to the phone, stay calm.

Fumble with the gridlock, and… DAMN!!!

Finally, after 3 dozen or so attempts, my phone took pity on me and popped up an alternative – an option to sign in through my email.

A Backdoor!!!

I was tempted. But I wasn’t yet resigned to suffer the indignity of being ushered in through the back door, not in my own Castle.

Yet, repeated attempts to get in through the main entrance were proving futile. I looked at the clock. 10 minutes to class, and I’ve missed a few of those already.

Another step closer to red flag called ‘shortage of attendance’

For a moment I pictured myself caught in the inevitable end-of-semester frenzy, running around with forged, paid-for prescriptions (oh yeah, happens everywhere) in hopes of legitimising some instances of absence from the sheer misery of the classroom as ‘medical leave’, so as to not be barred from taking more oncoming misery Semester End Exams. I decided to have a look at the timetable to take stock of the classes I’ve missed. And in that moment, my mind totally forgot about the issue at hand. My muscle memory took over, and viola! the gates of my fortress swung open in a grand welcome!

Sigh of relief? Hardly…

How could I forget the pattern?

Brain-eating amoeba feasting on my cerebellum? Ha ha..funny! They don’t exist!

Do they?

The genetic curse doing a test-run? Maybe.

Time will tell. Till then, my gridlock-patterns shall keep my brain muscles from atrophying…


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