On The Radio
Every night my Mom listens to her radio before going to sleep. Those battery-powered Phillips FM radios which people used to carry around in their pocket to listen to Test Cricket commentaries earnestly. This was the time when television wasn’t mainstream.
“It reminds me of my childhood days” she had once told me. So, with my first paycheck, I bought her one. She never fails to tell this anecdote to her friends still. It never gets stale for her. Given my love for antiques, I could never see the huge deal she makes out of it. But parents somehow find a way to romanticize the first paychecks of their kids and even more so when those paychecks are used to buy things for them.
We finish our dinner at about half-past ten and Mom and Dad usually stick around half an hour more to watch television. But after that, they always retire and Mom turns on her radio. She apparently has a particular channel tuned in because I never hear the squeaking of a dial being adjusted. And for some reason, she loves to hear it in a mellow volume.
As for me, when I was in school, I used to listen to the radio all the time. There used to be a program on Saturday nights where people would text small things they would send to their girlfriends or boyfriends and a guy called Rehan would read them out on the air with Kenny G playing in the background. It used to be my favourite show because I pictured myself sending these messages to some chick I had a crush on back in the day. Well, they didn’t really materialize and once college started, radio disappeared from my life.
Mom, on the other hand, has never allowed her passion for radio to fade. She, in the first few weeks, skillfully figured out all the good channels that played the music she wanted to hear with minimum navigation. And she wouldn’t let me touch her settings. “You’ll ruin it!” she’d snap every time I tried to touch the dial. I soon figured out that she dislikes anybody operating the radio but her.
But the songs are perfect. Sometimes, they even play the most horrible tunes from the nineties which often make me cringe, but as the night grows deeper, they bring back the classics, the old timers whose voices could melt moons. Shayamal Mitra, Kishore Kumar, Debabrata Biswas, Kanika Bandhopadhyay, Sagar Sen, singing those haunting tunes of Rabindra Sangeet whose spell you could never break.
Sometimes in the day Mom would come to me and whisper to me.
“When you have time, can you please get me these songs,” she’d hand me a list, “I’d like to memorize the lyric”
I smile and nod. It sometimes takes a while but I always do.
I work late. And often I turn to look at the clock on the wall behind and I am certain that she has slept off. But the radio drones on. I deliberately don’t sneak into the room to turn it off even though it seems like the sensible thing to do. Because I have always known that someday, when I finally move out of my parents’ house, I am going to miss the dilapidated voices of Rabindra Sangeet floating from what seems like a distant memory right to my ears, cutting deep through the night and putting me into a trance that could never be replicated. Because I knew that someday I would look up these very songs on the internet and would be instantly teleported to the time when I used to be in the adjacent room to a mono radio and sleeping parents and it’d make me smile.
Yes, I am a curator. I curate nostalgia.