Large and Small Effects Produced by the Installation of the Telephone
Technology transforms lives and communities. This is exactly what happened to the people and remote village of Magdaluna in Lebanon when the Telephone arrives into their life. Anwar F. Accawi, in his essay entitled “The Telephone”, illustrates the effect of the Telephone has on him and his people. According to him the Telephone shifted the center of Magdaluna, took away the lucrative business of some villagers and eventually carried the villagers to far away places.
The first effect of the installation of the Telephone in Magdaluna was that the men, especially the younger ones, shifts the place where they usually meet because they now want to be near the Telephone. According to Accawi, before the installation of the Telephone in their village, the men would usually spend their free time in the house of Im Kaleem, a widow and the town prostitute. In her house, the men, who have so little to do in their village, would “argue about politics, drink coffee and play cards or backgammon” ( Accawi 630). The wives of those men, although may have complained of such display of unfaithfulness of their husbands, do not actually object to this behavior. In fact, they are pleased with such an arrangement because it diverts the attention of their men while they are busy working. Moreover, they do not mind about Im Kaleem because she loves all the men and never collects any fees for her services. However, when the Telephone came, the men spend more of their time now in the dikkan (country store) of Abu Raja. The main reason why they were there is because they were waiting for the Telephone to ring as they are expecting that the Telephone “will bring news that will change their lives and deliver them from their aimless existence” (Accawi 631). Because of that belief it is no wonder then that the men would desire to be in the dikkan than in Im Kaleem’s house.
The second effect of the installation of the Telephone is that it took away the lucrative business of some villagers, especially Accawi and Im Kaleem for they lose their clients. Although Accawi, who was then just a boy, was curious and excited about the arrival of the Telephone in their village, he soon finds out that the arrival of the Telephone is not favorable for him. The reason is that, before, some man who spends a lot of time in the house of Im Kaleem , would usually call him “to run to the store for cigarettes or arrack or to deliver a message to his wife , such as what he wanted for supper” ( Accawi 631). For all these errands, Accawi would get a ten or twenty-five piaster which he was more than happy to spend for marbles. Now that the men spend their free time and evening in the dikkan, it would mean that there is no need for them to call Accawi to buy something for them at the store since they are at the store already. Meanwhile, although Im Kaleem does not charge money from her services, as a town prostitute, her customers deserted her so that the light and laughter from the men who gathers in her house are gone. Perhaps sad by the change, Accawi notices that Im Kaleem suddenly “got sick and old” (Accawi 632). It is very clear then, that the installation of the Telephone was not good news for all the villagers of Magdaluna.
Finally, and most importantly, the Telephone is responsible for carrying the villagers away from Magdaluna to far away places. The Telephone makes it possible for the people of Magadaluna to be in contact with the rest of the world. It was not long, therefore, before the people become acutely aware of the economic opportunities offered elsewhere. Men and women, including the family of Accawi, pack up their bags and go to places where work is available. In search of jobs and a better life, through ships and airplanes, the villagers went “to such far away places like Australia, Brazil and New Zealand” (Accawi 632). According to Accawi, his father’s friend from the army calls him and informs him that an oil company in Sidon, Lebanon, needs an interpreter and instructor. Accawi’s father gets the job and transfers his whole family to Sidon. Then years later, having won a scholarship, Accawi went to the United States. Due to this migration, less and less people are left in Magdaluna. In fact, “within a year, only the sick, the old and 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” (Accawi 632). The people left the village to seek for jobs and a better life.
In his essay, “The Telephone”, Anwar Accawi, therefore, provides insight into the large and small effects that a simple technology like the telephone can do to people and communities. It does brought change and for the people of the remote village of Magdaluna that change manifest itself through the shifting of the center of the village, through the taking away of the lucrative business of some villagers and through the carrying away of the villagers to far away places , making Magdaluna a deserted place.
Accawi, Anwar F. “ The Telephone”.