Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Circa 1965, Anandha Vikatan office.
Neelakandan had been writing for over a year in the Anandha vikatan weekly under the pen name Komalam. It was was the series' first anniversary. Everyone were congratulating him as he was leaving office.
"Vaazhthukkal Oi! Unga thodar nalla poitirukku, Bonus laan vangirkeer, enna panna poereer?"
"Radio ku license laan vangiyachu oru varushathukku. Murphy radio with Leather bag"
"Sabaash, evalo?"
"500 rupees" *with a huge gasp*
"Adhengappa, Ceylon radio laan kekalame"
"Aama aama", Neelakandan replied with pride
Neelakandan was so happy that he finally had a radio of his own. He need not go to his friends' place to listen to olichittiram of his favorite Balachander movies and listen to his favorite hindi songs in Binaca Geetmaalik. He was imagining everything in his mind and was walking to Standard electronics in thiruvellikeni.

Picture courtesy Radioactivity

"Enna sir Radio thayaar ah"
"Ready ah irukku, license vaangiteengala?"
"Ellan vangiyaachu, indhanga indha maasa thavana 100 ruba"
"Masaa masaam thavarama kudthurunga, edho Anandha vikatan la velai seiyyardhunaala kudukaren"
"Kandippa Kandippa"
"Aprm idhu current la dhaan odum, Connection irukka?"
"irukku irukku, nan varen"
Neelakandan held the heavy radio in his hand and then hung the leather bag on his shoulders and walked back to his home. Neelakandan reached the gate of his ondrikuditham flat. All his neighbors were peeping from their window,carefully watching Neelakandan carrying a radio and shutting them as he got near.
"Inga pathiya di Uma" he showed the radio to his wife.
"ennapa ne padu bayangarama radio voda vandhurka, marachi eduthuttu vara koodatha?"
"Muzhu pushanikkaiya epdi sothula maraikka mudiyum?"
"Enna prechana vara pogudho"
"Seri seri andha hurricane vilakku ah eduthuttu vaa, kaathala kolam maavellam pottu thodachi vechen"
"Adhan current irukke light podatta"
"Current ku yaaru kaasu kattuva?"
*tok tok tok tok* 
Someone was knocking the door. It was the landlord lady.
"Ennanga pudhusa ippa radio laan vangirkeenga neraya current selavangum aprm vadagaiya etharom. 200 ruba aprm current ku 20 ruba sethu kudunga"
"Amma adhu 60w dhan"
"Adhellan enkitta solladheenga, adutha masathulendhu kuduthudunga"
Neelakandan closed  the door and turned towards Uma
"idha paarunga avala vindunga. Indha maasa vaanoli pusthagathula potrukaan innukki 10 manikku Gemini Ganesan padalagal aam. andha keppom"
Neelakandan slowly nodded the headed but was still frowning.
"Aprm indha Nyaithikizhama unnakku pidicha 'Server Sundaram' thirachittiram podaraanaam pa"
His lips were slightly starting to turn the other way around and smile bloomed
"Aprm adutha bonus la apdiye Fan vaangidu pa"
"Adipaavi! idhukke iva kaasu ethara, fan vaanguna. Kadavule"
It was 9.45. Neelakandan took the easy chair placed it near the radio. Uma was lying down near the chair on the mat. Neelakandan switched on the radio and sat on the chair. They listened to the interruption sound for the next ten minutes and then the songs started. 
"Vaaryo vennilaave kelayo enthan kathaiye.................."
"Appa ezhundurppa! 4 hours ah current illa aam, nee paatukka jolly ah easy chair pottutu vaasal thoongitirukka TNEB ku phone panni sollakoodathu?"
"Naan kooda sonen dhaan unga appa ku. AC ilama irukkave mudila. Orey veyil"
Neelakandan's son Vignesh came back from work early because there was maintenance power cut at Boag road, where his office was situated.
"Kraadagam correct ah Kasthuri serial bothu current pannittan, innum varala. Oru inverter vaangi podu da" Uma was murmuring to her son.
"Naan ulgam poora suthirken inga dhan ivalo mosam. Indha 2014 layun 1960 mari vaazha vendirukku"
After a few minutes the power was restored and both the mother and son breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"Habba! Amma apdiye andha Coffee maker la kaapi potutu, andha AC ah room la poettu vittudu"
"Appa current vandaachu ulla va"
"Illada ingeya unkkandhu radio kekaren"
"Radio la laan onnum illa! evanavadhu oruthan loosu pesitiruppan, RJ Balaji ah apdiye copy adichu"
"Naan Hello Fm la touring talkies kekaren, vidu da"
"Eppadiyadhu po, Naan AC room ku poren"
"Indha da coffee, Naan ulla varen vaerthu kottudhu"
Both the mother and son went into the AC room, while Neelakandan was sitting on the easy chair in front of the home.
"Appa enna kekara? Touring talkies ah?" asked his younger son Subramiam, who was returning back from his Tamil Literature masters college classes.
"Aama da, Ethir neechal! Enga Balachander padam"
"Andha padatha naan download panni vechirken va naam serndhu pakalaan"
"Naan radio le ketukaren paravailla"
"Ennavo po, naan ippa poda poren vandha vaa"
*Agaramudhala ezhuthellam Aadhi bhagavan mudhatre ulagu*, the movie started
Neelakandan hesitantly got up for a moment, then sat down and continued listening to the radio.

11 blesses 'n' curses:

Srijith said...

Well written da! I can relate to the mother and son haven't come across many old people who continue to use the radio. Nice! :-)

Srinivas said...

First of all, it is nice to read something here after a very long time. And I loved everything about the story -- the English narration and the Tamil dialogues, the subtlety with which you have spoken of life in the present and in an earlier decade and the radio (an anachronism, if you will) still serving as a bridge between the past and the present.

Do write more when you have the time. :) You made me go on a trip of nostalgia, and I thank you for that!

Venkatadri Raghunathan said...

@Srijith: Thanks machi.

@Srini: Yesterday was my grandmother's devasam. All the my Aunts and Uncles were here. I let them all to chat and slyly recorded everything. I was listening to that today noon and thought why not write a story out of it. Took all the bits and pieces of details and stitched it together :-D

Venkatadri Raghunathan said...

@Srini: Also I think you and one other person I know only got the subtlety part right. Nostalgia was only a vehicle to drive home this. The radio is only a metaphor for all the beliefs that we hold on it. Also how the current consumerism climate of things have made people for whom a fan was a luxury to make AC a necessity and fan a bare minimum. That if you be more specific or widely how luxury becomes necessity over a period of time. Also wanted to stress how we have taken everything in our life for are granted. We are probably living in best times yet and we are pissed off with every little adjustment we have to make.

Vishesh Unni Raghunathan said...

Besh! Besh!

Anonymous said...

Hey Vengu, nicely written man. Highly #njybl :) - Jager

Venkatadri Raghunathan said...

Thanks 😄

Venkatadri Raghunathan said...

What ra jaggu, posting anonymous and all. Doing CID stuffs ah? :-P

Arun Srini said...

Super .. Thodarndhu ezhudhu. . Nostalgia plus subtle satire of our nitpicking in this affluent society. Nice

Venkatadri Raghunathan said...

@Arun Srini

Thanks boss. Sure thing.

bladenomics said...

Verrrry nice venk.

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