When I was young, the radio and Hindi film music were obsessions. I’d lock myself in the room, sit in front of the transistor in attitudes of meditation, rocking in appreciation. On Sundays, Radio Ceylon had specials. I remember one hour-long information-packed slot where episode by episode, they went through the body of Hindi film music, year-wise – taking us through the hits, supplying nuggets of trivia. I took notes as if I was going to be examined on the subject. Eventually, the heat of my interest abated and regrettably, the facts have fallen away through the chinks in memory.
One July 31 many years ago, I was looking forward to a day full of Rafi. I had cleared the decks, and there was nothing to keep me from staying unhealthily glued to the radio. Except disaster. I turned the knobs and the transistor went dead. I was near tears; perhaps I did cry. My father took me out to Secunderabad’s Clock Tower area and bought me a new one. Shweta tells me now that she was shocked at such indulgence – my parents were not the sort to give in to every whim. I think now that they were very wise, able to distinguish between unreasonable demands and what was very important to the child.