Our world of toys has a new energy and long hours: Lego bricks. What they transform to from being an empty assortment of grooves, protrusions, wires and protrusions is beyond fantastic. There is a logical reason for this new found passion. But that for another time.
For now, recounting an evening with the little miss.
That evening we were building a tape recorder. Me, the little miss and a silly heap of bricks. It seemed like an easy project to finish before dinner. But it turned out otherwise. It took us a few sittings. We would build and stare at what’s emerging and shake our heads. Half in disgrace of what was emerging and the other half in disquiet.
Midway through I wondered why it took such a long time. To my mind, we had cracked far more complex contraptions with far less effort. Most times with a hurried yank, a precise stare and an impromptu smile. This time, we had furrowed brows and murky frowns. We weren’t getting anywhere for a long time. We were done finally with a dash of colour at the top. It was almost like we had climbed an impossible mountain.
Why did it take us so long? In hindsight, the answer was staring at my face from the time that we set out to build. The answer was clearly on her face. (And I could see it only when I replayed it in my memory). For a confused stare had descended upon her when we chose to build a tape recorder. It became apparent to me later, that the tape recorder was a fancy science fiction gadget, that she had never ever experienced.
The closest she had come to experiencing one was to see it at her grandma’s place. One that still manages to spout songs from the radio but the cassette deck refuses to open.
The magic of the cassette deck opening, the ‘clunk’ of the loading and the physical pressure that would take to switch on the play button to get deft songs playing out of defined speakers were an integral part of my growing up years. Not to forget the twaddle of wires that we had to roll out if ever we wanted to set up speakers in another room. These of course are as ancient as the Pharaohs of the Nile to her modern day mind that is more used to deft devices and intangible play. When much of music is in the air and music streams in like monsoon rain from unseen clouds, the world has indeed moved on.
The next day evening, she had a few questions for me and we sat down to talk a bit about my ‘tape recorder times’! Of how it was in the ‘good old days’. And for everything that I explained to her, I had to give her a modern day equivalent for her to connect to. Native toys and some of the games we used to play and the people we played with. Of my schools. Of my friends. Of my brother. Of my dad. Of my mom.
The moment we came to my mom, she jumped, ‘Ah that’s my paati (grandma)’. ‘You just called her your mom’. And for some reason, her eyes filled even as a nervous laughter leapt through the evening rain. I don’t know why my eyes filled to the brim in great speed too.
To think that the absent tape recorder caused this memory shower threw a sigh into the air. As the rain pelted its singular rhythm on the window, I reached out for a hot coffee, humming ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.