The television came home without a red ribbon when I was 6 years old. 1986. I even invited kids from neighboring houses for the inauguration. They came shy, toying with their skirts and looked on with wonder at the television that wasn't a part of the community, but sat in awe inspiring height well above what our toes could help reach. Neighbors envy, owners’ pride.
To switch on the red button, Daddy would lift me up and I would launch the machine that would transport us all into worlds beyond. Almost an astronaut I was and already.
What I remember most of it all was the news. I never understood a word they said, never cared to. But it became a guessing game for Amma and me. She would at every news hour at night, be flipping the chappatis we had with unfailing regularity every night. I would turn on the television and hike up the volume. Running to the door that stood between I would ask her, "Who is it this time?"
And Amma would listen intently, while making sure her rotis didn't burn and would say familiar names 'Gitanjali Iyer', "Rini Khanna". I forget the rest of the names. A Manjari I think -am not too sure. Most often Amma was right. But the picture always comes to mind, Achan taking a distracted interest in seeing how Amma fared that day, I who was the quizmaster and Amma who was right and wrong. And how Amma would gasp seeing the blouses that Gitanjali Iyer wore. Scandalous, she would murmur and blush a shade red.
Sitting on Amma's lap and watching Chitrahaar. Old melodies that would play and I would hear Amma crooning along with it- songs that were in her past. Stolen moments she'd heard over her neighbor's radio. Living with her grandmother, Amma never had the luxury of choice. There are a list of things she talks about with nostalgic fondness- bangles at the village fetes, chappals other girls in school wore and Hindi songs over the radio. On how she would slip off after prayer everyday to light the lamp far away from the house and she would linger over the hedge that separated their house from the neighbors and listen to fragments of music.
Malgudi days. This was Achan's forte. He would explain to Amma on who everyone was, though she could have followed it just as easily herself. And I would be driven to distraction by his talking. I didn’t want to understand too much. I would climb out of the lap-for-the-day and sit on the floor very near the television and watch the scenes flicker past.
The acquired taste of Sunday afternoon movies which we would watch lying on soft mattresses after heavy lunches.
Hum Log. Buniyaad. And others. People who filled our lives with their stories, happiness, hopes, fears and sadness.
The rest of the memories are punctuated by excessive uncheerfulness. I'll put a full stop here so, like the swirling logo of doordarshan that would signal the time begining and end of good times.