Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The black-&-white TV

The year was 1982. The rain clouds had started to thunder in the sky. Looking at them excitedly was a boy, aged 14. He was standing by the window of his apartment and watching the sky from a long time through a window.

Bhaiya!” wailed a voice from behind him.

Sanjeev turned and saw his younger sister standing expectantly wearing a new frock.

Let’s go!” Suman said. “Else we won’t get any vacant place to sit!

Sanjeev took her hand and they started running together towards the opposite building. It was a Saturday evening. The children reached the building and met many of their friends. Together they all climbed the steps and went to the aunty’s apartment. Her room was already jam-packed. Some were sitting on the floor and half a dozen lucky ones had occupied the sofa. One young man was sitting on a stool. Two kids were standing smashed against the corner wall. Sanjeev took one look and told his sister to wait for 2 minutes. He and three of his friends disappeared and Suman was left to stand outside the room staring mutely at the crowd. Shortly Sanjeev returned and brought a plastic chair. He passed it to his sister. She placed it near the door and sat on it. Sanjeev’s friends had managed to get hold of some more stools. Some sat while some preferred to stand. Meanwhile more people turned up. By this time, the second floor of the building could be seen crowded near aunty’s apartment to any outsider. All eyes were on the huge black box. It had a black shutter which was open. Aunty entered the main hall from kitchen with some difficulty. After much shoving and pushing, she reached the switch and turned it on. Then she turned towards the box and pressed a button on it. It started and the screen flashed. People cheered and some even clapped. Doordarshan was about to telecast a Hindi movie. They had come to watch the movie on the aunty’s brand new black and white television.

It had become a regular thing for all the kids in the neighborhood for weekends. A television was quite new to the public and to actually have one caused a lot of excitement amongst kids. Aunty’s television was the first in the whole colony. Every weekend, the children went to her house for watching movies. The evenings were spent in watching movies on Doordarshan. Some went on Fridays to watch Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan hosted by Tabassum. It was a TV show that interviewed celebrities. Sanjeev and Suman, like their friends, went to aunty’s house for watching the TV every evening from Friday to Sunday. Most of the time, they managed to reserve places for each other. If late, they would stand and watch. Nobody dared to move even in breaks for fear of losing their seats! If there was any signal problem, someone would go up on the terrace and push the antenna vigorously.

Soon it was 8.15pm. Suman called out to her brother and motioned him to look at the wall clock. Sanjeev saw and understood what she meant. They had to get back to their home before their father, who came home sharply at 8.30pm. After saying goodbye to everyone in the vicinity, the children ran to their homes. After entering inside their apartment, they washed their legs, changed their dresses and sat with books on their lap. Their mother smiled on seeing all this.

Has your father come?” the mother asked and looked towards the main door.

Not yet. We didn’t see him on our way here. He must be late today” Suman replied and went back to staring at her book.

Right on cue, there was a great knock on the door. The children hurriedly started pretending to study while their mother went and opened the door. Their father entered and sat on the sofa. He was an editor in a leading newspaper agency. He was tired and exhausted with the day’s work but his mind was as sharp as ever.  After five minutes of silence, he called out to his children. They came to him with the books in their hands.

“So, you both were studying? Very good” the father said and turned towards their mother who tried her best not to laugh but failed. The father understood everything and nodded to his children.

So movies again today?” the father asked and his daughter could not hold it much longer. She burst forth with her speech. She talked about which movie they had seen and how the room was again crowded. After rambling for few more minutes, she asked again for the umpteenth time.

Babuji, why can’t we have our very own television in the house?” 

After six days, Suman got her wish granted. She was not only jubilant but also proud of her new television in her own apartment. ‘Her’ television she called it. Sanjeev became popular among his friends for owning a TV. They were the very first one in their building to have a TV. News spread like wildfire and the next day, friends and acquaintances started gathering in their house to drop in their congratulations and watch a new movie on Doordarshan…… 


  1. Nice read Snehal. This was exactly the situation when Black and White TVs were firstly available to the common people.

  2. Lovely read Snehal. It brought back a lot of childhood memories. Our first TV was a color one and quite a few neighbors used to flock our home. Sometimes when we had exams, my mom would try to avoid TV but the neighbors would land on time for Chitrahaar and the weekend movie ha ha :) Lovely Read!

  3. Nice post Snehal..It reminded my childhood days in my village..I used to watch Ramayana at my neighbor's home from 9:00 PM onwards..Once my mother became angry on this and she punished me also..my father brought a small Black & White Television next day..Incidentally the only TV in neighborhood became unserviceable and then there were a huge crowd (sometimes) up to 100 people gathered in a ground in front of my house. Those were the crazy days of Doordarshan on a Black & White TV with iconic programmes like Ramayana, Mahabharta, Alif Laila, Vyomkesh Bakshi, Chandrakanta etc.

    1. Thank you! I like it that you shared your childhood experience here.

  4. I still remember my 14 and 21 inches Black and White TVs. :)