Thursday, March 16, 2006

Radio Memories

I am remembering...those nights long ago, living in that almost-haunted house. Dark was always black making mornings seem almost unbearably light, like overexposed film. I was a loner, even as a child and I am remembering voices in the night, lyrics in the dark.

As a child, growing up in Allahabad, in the 70's and 80's, there was no television. But I had something though it was not really mine. My father (who remains addicted to the monotonous All-India Radio news even in these days of 24-hour CNN on his TV) had a transistor radio. Black and portable it was light enough for him to carry around the house, much more convenient than the giant Zenith radio.

I would sneak up and steal the transistor, fully intending to return it to its place with no one being the wiser. Inside my lihaf (it's always winter in my memories) I would snuggle in and turn the knobs until I happened upon some music program. Nothing high-brow, film music really.

But it filled my senses. Lata and Kishore and Asha and Rafi. Those frequently overwrought, over-dramatic lyrics, the sentimentality, the despair, the fake-anger, those words soaked in visions of love,fidelity and depression.

It was part of my growing up years. I could close my eyes and be transported to the world of all its garish, 1000 voltage reality. It was exciting though, this portal into a hyperbolic life and so far-removed from the prosaic little-girl life I lived.

These days when I listen to some obscure song I realize that I've never forgotten those long-ago nights. Some niggle of remembrance prods me and I can sing along even if I have not heard the song in over two decades.

Did it seep into my unconscious? For, invariably, I would fall asleep, the radio crackling in my ear, long after it soothed me to sleep.

My father was always mad, searching for the radio, getting late for the late-night news...and also because those hours of static-ridden nothingness depleted the batteries. He had to replace them often. I don't know how often.

Each morning I would make resolutions and each night I would break them and sneak up into the drawing room and run back softly to my bed, the radio clutched in my hands.

I am remembering....


Enigma said...

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Jawahara Saidullah said...

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