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Nostalgic Memories About the Good Old Murphy Radio

Published: 29th October 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2015 10:27 PM   |  A+A-

One man’s junk is another man’s nostalgia. Everything can be killed except nostalgia. It is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days. This I experienced recently when our house received a much-needed coat of paint on the eve of Eid-ul-Adha (Bakr-Eid).

As things were removed, dusted and cleaned, we came upon a carton that was wrapped in a piece of cloth with a thick layer of grime. Nobody knew or rather remembered what it contained. As the cloth covering was removed, a collective sigh escaped our lips. Yes, it was the antique tabletop radio that we had almost forgotten.

What a fall it was, my countrymen! This Shakespearean line (from Julius Caesar) immediately flashed through my mind. Once, this radio set occupied the pride of place in our living room and now it is relegated to the attic where all useless items are dumped. It has taken a span of just four decades for this luxury possession to turn into a junk. It still retains its original sheen and appeal. The wooden console is still striking and so is the iconic Murphy baby logo at the top. Only it has stopped working — rather lost its utility. I leaned forward and took a closer look at the radio that my father had bought some 40 summers ago.

As I started examining it closely, my son and daughter immediately passed their verdict. “What is this kacchra (rubbish) doing in our home. Pappa, you should give it to the raddiwala”. My wife didn’t say a word but the frown spreading across her face showed that she too agreed with the children.

My heart sank as I realised the growing hostility towards the vintage home radio set. Things do not change, we change. Till the late 70s, the tabletop radio used to be a status symbol. Not many possessed it and those who had the radio became the talk of the town. Owner’s pride and neighbours envy — that’s the feeling it generated. Unfortunately, it has lost the technology race and fell from grace with computer desktops and LCD TVs usurping its position.

I vividly remember the day when my father, a postmaster, brought the Murphy radio home. We lived in Raydurg, a small town in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. There was no radio shop there and so my father travelled to Bellary, a nearby city in Karnataka, to buy one. My elder brother, Imtiaz Ahmed, and I were quite excited and couldn’t wait to set eyes on the radio. But there was no sign of father even as the night advanced. Our mother asked us to go to bed and promised to wake us when father came. But we wouldn’t. We didn’t want to miss the wonderful moment when the radio arrived home. So we kept wide awake.

At last after what seemed to be an eternity, our father came along with the radio. We sat around this gizmo and basked in the warmth it seemed to generate. The whole of the following week was a festive time at home with neighbours and relatives dropping in to say congratulations. Radio Ceylon and the programmes it aired were a big hit those days.

We especially looked forward to the weekly Binaca Geetmala (countdown show of top film songs) presented by the effervescent Ameen Sayani. His melodious address ‘bhaiyo aur behno’ (brothers and sisters) still rings in the ear. Which song would be the chartbuster kept everyone guessing.

The terrestrial radio now appears a blast from the past. Cell phones, iPods, podcasts have stolen a march over it. Who wants to stay tuned to it anymore? But whenever I look at it, there is a lump in my throat, tear in the eye and tug in the heart. Nostalgia sure dies hard.  jsifthekhar@gmail.com

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