My Cassette Romance

My Cassette Romance


Nostalgia weaved into the tiny rotating wheels; the glossy threads shone with remnants of bygone days. I was fiddling with the thread of the old cassette revived from a far-flung corner of the attic-type storage place in our old house. As much I love reminiscing, being casual and indifferent and downright hard sometimes I let go of things easily, which means I am not the collector sort. Normally I can leave past behind and walk ahead or maybe I carry some extent of past with me and the sailing is comparatively smooth!

Radio was my first love. Not much of a musical family, especially on my paternal side, radio was my conduit to the musical world, of film songs and different shows. The tape recorder was a fascination, there was a dysfunctional tape recorder at home, and random cassettes mostly belonged to my Pishi who loved, still loves listening to Rabindra Sangeet. Once she moved out, it was uncared for. That tape recorder was etched in my memory because, that was where I narrated a story which was recorded by my Kaku and Pishi, I was hardly five/six, the story of a poor Brahmin lured by the material world and how he was chided by his guru! Kaku, Pishi, I used to listen to it again and again and burst into laughter when I ended the story with all the drama I could gather! Growing up I could only see Rabindra Sangeet cassettes in my house, and I had this mad fetish for Hindi songs. There was one Amar Prem and Abhimaan cassette among all the Bangla ones and maybe one Teesri Kasam. I played them over and over again, also did try the Bengali ones and the songs grew on me bit by bit.

For some years after Pishi left, I had to do without a cassette player. Only when she bought herself a new Philips CD player type, I could lay my hands on the beautiful sleek red stereo cassette player with radio, two in one basically. After my twelfth class, the first cassette I bought was Nikaah/ Umrao Jaan… the beautiful poetry, and sultry voices of Salma Agha, and Talat Aziz kept me mesmerized in my college days. And to listen to songs I wanted and not wait for the radio to play them! Next was Safar and Khamoshi, Khamoshi was a revelation, Hemanta Mukherjee and Lata Mangeshkar and those magical Gulzar lyrics!

Humne dekha hain un aankho ki mehakti khushbu…hath se chuke use rishto ka naam na do!

My heart just went zooommm every time I listened.

I was getting adventurous. Next was SD Burman from HMV…

Waha kaun hain Tera… Musafir jayega kaha

Then a Dev Anand collection

Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale gayee

I was going so retro! And I loved it…the lyrics, the rhythm, the sense!

A bit into my early twenties I badly wanted to buy the cassette of Jism, John and Bipasha starrer erotic movie that had me captivated, with exotic locales and haunting music. I had hovered around the music shop yet I could not get myself to pronounce the name!! I asked my librarian colleague to do it for me in Shillong. She was cool and there I had the Jism cassette I listened to in my lone quarter!

Awarapan banjarapan ek khala hain jeevan mein!

In this day of online music and unlimited YouTube, I do love my car radio and yearn for those priced possessions…my cassettes! They are priceless being useless!


Soma Bhattacharjee




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