-->

24 November 2020

Of Radios and Cigarette Smoke

 (This article was first published on Baradwaj Rangan's blog.)

Lying in bed with the radio on
Moonlight falls like rain
Soft summer nights spent thinking of you
When will I see you again?”

So sang England Dan and John Ford Coley in Nights are forever without you.

I grew up at a time when a radio had pride of place in many middle-class homes. From the news to music and even plays, the radio provided hours of entertainment. I’ve certainly spent many nights with the radio on, and many a day as well. Long, lazy summer afternoons where I would lie on the sofa or with a pillow on the floor; the latest book purchase to read; fried snacks or pastries if we were lucky, raw mangoes with a red chilli paste if we were less lucky to stave off mid-afternoon hunger pangs – and the radio on. Always. From Aap ki Farmaaish to Manoranjan to Jayamala, there were hours of Hindi film songs to listen to, with persons writing in with unerring regularity from a place called Jhumri Telaiya.

We pondered over whether it was a real place, my sister and I; we wondered about the people who lived there, who apparently loved Hindi film songs so much that they took the time to send in requests day after day. It was funny the things we thought of, then. We squabbled amicably over our favourite singers – mine was Mohammed Rafi; my sister’s – inexplicably to me – was Mukesh. I’m not sure she actually liked him the best or was just saying so to be contrarian. She was like that sometimes, my sis.

Dad used to smoke 555s. And Wills. Gold Flakes, on rare occasions. He would solemnly tear the empty cigarette packets into thirds horizontally, so I could jump on them and listen to the band. When he was home, he had his own chair (and his own cup and plates, his own comb and towels and soap). He would sit there in the afternoon, smoking a cigarette, reading a Wodehouse again, or the latest bestseller he had picked up at the airport, twiddle the knobs of the radio. The room would fill with the voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi and Talat Mahmood, Shamshad Begum and Mukesh. I would settle myself on the floor, book in hand.

To read the full article, please click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back to TOP