By Neel Anil Panicker

“What’s this thing,”? ten year old Rahul’s voice was on a higher octave than usual Dinanath, hearing the raised voice, walked in through the door and shot a glance at his grandson and then at the “thing” the kid held in his little hands.

The instant he did so, the octogenarian’s face lighted up, his cataract ridden eyes shone with a strange illumination.

The next one full minute as he stared into child’s hands, his mind had travelled back in time.

“Grandpa, I asked you a question. Tell me, what is this thing?”

Jolted back to reality, the old man held out his hand and gently took the “thing” and began to caress it as if it were long, lost lover.

Then, sitting down at the edge of the bed, he motioned his grandson to sit beside him. “This ‘thing’ that you have discovered, my dear, is what is oops was called a audio cassette. Back in my time, we used to insert this into a recorder, and then press the ‘Play’ button. We would then listen to songs—all kinds—old romantic Bollywood, ghazals, English numbers at al. This venyl tape would unspool an hour long song and then we would press ‘Eject’ and reverse the tape and play the songs on the other side.”

As the little kid looked on in amazement, the old man continued, “You children are so unlucky for unlike us you hear your music strapped on headphones, and watch your favourite film and music stars gyrate on your palm tops”


“But we get to see and watch them music live. Isn’t that great, something your generation missed out on, grandpa?”, exclaimed the little one.

The wizened old man had afar away look in his eyes when he replied, “That may be true, my dear but  what he had was something more priceless and that is the power of imagination. Imagine sitting through long hours well into the night with the tape unspooling old melancholic film songs leaving one to lose wondrously into a magical world of make believe entirely of our creations. This, my dear, is what you kids are missing out  even though you have the luxury of the latest state of art digital gadgets at your fingertips.”.

As the little kid looked on mystified, his grandfather retreated into his room where he would relive the memories of a golden era gone by.

#neelanilpanicker #flash #fiction #shortstory


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