When it was all about a Radio by Elina Naik
I am sure all of us 70’s kids have a story ready to be told about that ubiquitous invention adorning our childhood home’s shelf . Days when we chose to listen rather than hear, when we walked chin up and not head down. Days before the Television transfixed entire generations , days when old melodies and lilting tunes were hummed by young and old alike.
The days of the radio and I too have a radio story to narrate and relive..It’s not a story rather episodes streaming. Live from my memory, recorded by my neural network and now being replayed.
Whenever I think of or see a radio, my mind flashes the visage of my majestic grandfather, ” Aja”.His radio and him were like conjoined twins, inseparable. Probably the only time ,He didn’t carry it along was when he completed his ablutions and when he was away in the fields tending his crops.
Now, “Aja” came from a family of landlords but to me he was a great emancipator, whom people from far and wide used to look up for advise on wordly matters. He used to hear out the woes of crop failure, pest infestation , marital discords , family feuds every morning and evening with an almost regal equanimity. I believe he had a solution to the messiest of the situations and hence people thronged his abode. All while during such congregations , his Radio witnessed it all.Had it been able to have a voice of its own, probably his Radio would have relayed a thousand stories .
Our Biennial sojourn to my mother’s ancestral placed , ” Karanjadhia ” ( unraveling the mystery of this name is on my bucket list ) used to start with our summer vacations and end with pre -winter vacations, the extended Puja holidays culminating with “Kumara Purnima” ( a celebration of girlhood with its fair share of culinary delights, bonding over Puja and waterlilies )
The second phase of the vacations, used to be hoary and halcyon. The sun was subdued, a little lazy like the earthlings beneath, took some time to ruffle the misty veil till the horizon was unraveled and the paths clear to be trodded. A perfectly circular dew drop formed on the damp straw jutting out from the thatched roof, waiting to disappear with first strike of the rays. A perfect setting when you heard ” Vande Mataram ” on Akash Vani. Surreal it was , it felt as if the words resonated from up there.
The sun streaming through wooden panes , synchronous with the voice of ” Sankarshan Mangaraj ” ( to the uninitiated he is to Odia Mythology renditions as Bhism Shahni of Odia Radio broadcasts on AIR as Amin Sayani was to Binaca Geetmala on Radio Ceylon ) was like a sequel lullaby egging me to take that prolonged nap till the sun rays were perfectly slant to burn my cheeks. I grew up listening to the wisdom of our scriptures succinctly and lucidly composed and rendered in a perfectly crafted voice to catch the attention of a wide eyed 10 year old.
With an early frugal breakfast of ” Mudhi Khira ” ( for the Non odias, a staple breakfast of the Odisha country side , rice puffs soaked in cow milk, sugar / no sugar being the only choice , this simple food beats the odds of any ostentatious breakfast spread anywhere in the world ) , Aja would start his day , parting ways till lunch time with his beloved Radio.
At lunch time, he would return from.his wordly affairs to have a sumptuous lunch and the famed Odia aftenoon siesta, with the afternoon news and Vivid Bharti to keep him company. Lazy afternoons , we are talking of times when elders goaded you to take a rejuvenating nap and not run amock climbing trees and stealing amlas, oranges, sweet limes from the neighbours orchard. The thrill of doing this even if you had fruit laden trees in your own backyard was exhilarating.
The Radio found its place in a room , but obviously called the ” Radio Ghara ” ( Ghara.. meaning house or room ) , mind it no one was allowed to touch it other than him, probably forbidden as it had the charm to distract one from the daily chores , which was meticulously planned for each family member. Now I know where I got my first lessons in Organisation Structure and hierarchical delegation of responsibilities from !
Unconscious or Covert Learning , you may say.
Evenings were when the Radio was the undisputed Hero.
With the waxing and waning of the moon and the night call of the owl from atop the palm trees and only the glimmer of the kerosene lantern as company , we all huddled round the Radio to listen to Old and New Hindi movie songs . The show,.” Jaymala ” still continues to be aired , dedicated to the soldiers of our country guarding the frontiers..
As the wisps of the earthen chulha escaped into the night sky and the woody smell of firewood and heady aroma of simmering fish curry played with my senses, we ( ok..just for reference I had a motley gang of Uncles and Aunts, my mother’s cousins and siblings , age group no bar…) hummed along in our coming of age crackling voices whilst intermittently trying to keep focus on the algebraic equations and English lessons.
I bet none of you would have had such an inspiring study environment !!.
So till dinner was served we regaled in playful banter and stories and most precious of all, got a few moments of sharing our views on current affairs with Aja who invariably presided over these gamely proceedings. It was difficult juggling the emotions of not hurting your seniors and trying to catch the attention of the presiding stalwart , “Aja ” with witty remarks and mature opinions..
Those evenings forever remain etched in my memory , when conversations were struck and ice was broken around the masterpiece
, ” The Radio “..
May be you have your own Radio Story , would love to listen to it.
Till I garnish this tale with many more anecdotes, tune in to your Radio sets or the memories of it..
… Inspired to write after watching an episode of ” #LittleThings”.