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Why I code

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It all started innocently enough. My daily routine used to revolve around computers. Loitering around in San Andreas and reversing time in Persia. At the time, I had made a few HTML pages using Microsoft Word and had heard some cool kids talk about some Cascading Sheets. Spending all my time playing video games and still managing to get straight A’s, I could not be bothered to learn anything apart from my school curriculum. Also, I was devoting a major chunk of time to become the greatest gangster on Grove Street.

As time went by and my high school started including more boring subjects in my curriculum, I started spending more and more time in front of my computer as my escapade. This was when I realised something: All the computer wizards in the movies, the ones who could hack into “mainframe servers” in minutes while I struggled to “catch the damn train”, none of them were using a computer as I did. They were writing some green gibberish on a black screen.

One night while ending my gaming session, I happened to catch a glimpse over my Uncle’s shoulders. It was at that moment when he became my OG. The Wizard. Qui Magnus of Computers. My eyes couldn’t believe what they had witnessed. I had just seen a pyramid being printed on a dark blue screen! It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. It looked just like what those wizards did and I wanted to immerse myself in this wizardry.

“How did you do that, Qui Magnus?” I asked, imagining that I could be like Zuckerberg one day.

The concise, monosyllabic answer that changed my life forever: “Code.”, he said.

From the next day, I jumped in the neverending rabbit hole of web development. I started actually learning HTML to build the webpage, CSS to add colour and JavaScript to make the buttons bounce. The moment I was able to clone the Google Homepage was when I thought I had become …. The Alpha. The Oracle of Matrix! I used to take those HTML files in a USB drive everywhere I went. These files used to lie my pocket to provide me comfort, making me feel like I had a piece of Moon in my pocket. Earlier, I used to surf the Web. Now, I was the Web!

As I entered my 11th standard, I was introduced to the real Blue Screen of Death! The Turbo C compiler. Autocomplete was not available at my disposal anymore. Strings were no longer immutable, and programming was no longer that easy! Between all the arduous JEE prep and cramming up code for creating hotel management systems, programming had lost its charm to me! While scrolling through the Web, I stumbled on a website called Awwwards! Impressed by all the 3d renders and custom shaders was when I realised; I was still a boy who was excited by seeing boxes bounce in my browser, just was misguided by the dogmatic approach of teaching.

As soon as my JEE exams ended, your boy was determined to change the Web as we know it. From missing uni classes to pulling all-nighters and drowning myself in Redbull rivers, I had taught myself to code.

Programming became a part of my personality now. A pile of pancakes was a stack, trees in my park were of wrong orientation and Richard Stallman was my god now. Creating only pretty websites seemed like an insufficient usage of code. I went on to writing custom distros, writing code that changed itself, finding vulnerabilities in famous applications, and writing code that changed the way I wrote my code. From writing simple HTML pages to writing custom Vim plugins, I evolved.

Late one night, during an “online” hackathon, working diligently to complete a project due next morning. Introspecting, while looking at my terminal, I laughed to myself because I knew no person who only solely focused on inverting binary trees couldn’t even dare to complete this on time. All the production crashes I had made, all the PR reverts due to me, had prepared me for this moment. I opened my VIM and glided through the VirtualDOM without even touching the rodent on my desk. That’s when I noticed the reflection in my monitor. My wide-eyed cousin glaring on my screen.

“How do you do that?” he asked, his voice filled with awe.

I smiled and prepared to utter the single word that changed my life. The word that, should he choose to pursue it, will lead him down the same rabbit hole to a multiverse filled with infinite combinations of infinitesimally deep and complex rabbit holes to produce a form of hyper-efficiency previously attainable only in his wildest of dreams. He reminded me of myself, standing behind the old Compaq Presario, as I feel a tinge of excitement for him as I form the word.

“Code.”