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The Present

by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)

Our doctor had always admired a friend of his for his ‘anti star-T.V’ stand. Now,that friend had also become an addict like others!

“Yes doc”-The wife informed the doc, meeting him after a long time. “It is quite a story!”
And straightaway launched into it. (Mind you, she is a story-writer!)

“We should present something to our dear tatha and paati…..” granddaughter’s voice.

“Yea, before leaving their place………” Grandson’s voice.
Glad? I should say surprised, having been labeled as an interfering bossy-paati by those two independents on a holiday from America.

“Now, what shall we present?” The voices continued.

I couldn’t help overhearing;it was too interesting!
“I have an idea……….!What about presenting them with star-cable? They may feel lonely after we are gone, and this will keep them engaged.”
“Good idea! Our paati being a writer will get lot of exposure to write –who knows, she may write a masterpiece and get the Nobel prize!” Grandson’s prediction.

Thus did the modern enchanter make its grand entry into our home. As luck would have it, my husband wasn’t at home that morning. Otherwise, I shudder to think of the scene that would have followed. Being a bhakta of our Doordarshan,he had not allowed video-starnet work etc. to come even an inch near our house. As such, his reaction could be imagined. The cable-boys were treated as enemies, and the innocent T.V boycotted as polluted! He would not see any programme! I felt guilty, but the children were unperturbed. To be frank, ‘Great!”- they exclaimed, happy to have the T.V to themselves.

But soon conflicts arose- their programmes clashing. Granddaughter loved watching ‘Bold and beautiful,' movies, Michael Johonson etc, while grandson would not allow the remote controller to move an inch from sports channel and fighting movies. Both were adamant, and verbal duels followed, disrupting the tranquility of the atmosphere. Both would not budge even for a second! I kept aloof, caught between them and the silently growling grandfather.

“See,what did I tell you? we have unnecessarily invited trouble plus a monthly heavy bill! Weren’t we happy before with our dear doordarshan?”- I was the target of his lectures. “Now you don’t touch the T.V till the terrors go back. America has spoilt them! Let them monopolies it as much as they want! Present to us? Fiddlesticks! They wanted it for themselves,and so this ploy!”

I couldn’t help agreeing; Appealed to daughter to ward off the T.V earthquake. Calling an emergency meeting, she tactfully divided the programmes, somewhat in the way a property is divided; I acted as lawyer for both sides. Maybe I did some good work,for the kids magnanimously decided to gift me with a sober programme- ‘NEIGHBOURS’.They would drag me to view it wherever I was-whatever I be at! May be they also wanted to see it, but prohibited by their mother from viewing T.V in the evenings.

I soon found myself becoming an addict of that interesting serial-would switch off the cooking, and sit glued to the T.V; Neglected visitors, refused to go out-even to the temple during that time and if by any chance the current went out,lol- the shower of curses over K.E.B!

My husband’s disapproval increased; T.V became virtually his enemy.This set my daughter worrying. Supposing the present given with good intentions, became a bone of contention? “Sit together after we are gone, and divide the programmes equally”-She told me-“Between appa’s doordarshan and your star-network. That way you both can enjoy”

Easier said than done. Our programmes began to clash - eventually jar on each other’s nerves. I wanted to see all serials on T.V, while he labeled them all as ‘senseless-meaningless-waste of precious time, and concentrated on ‘cricket, and ‘news-news-news! It didn’t matter which language! Added to this confusion, Chinese programmes would creep in stealthily, in no time occupying almost all the channels! (Typical of the Chinese!). At such times, the lectures at home! Can you imagine?

“Don’t tell me anything!” He would flare up “I knew this would happen! And what about your writing? How long since you wrote a line?”

Yes, reading and writing had stopped completely-not even newspaper! The only column I read as daily ritual was the star-network programmes!

Things took an ugly turn when T.V blackouts began to make their appearance.
“No, we don’t suffer so much since we cajoled our line-proprietor into installing the cable-box in our house.” A friend confided when I asked her advice-“We switch it off whenever our star-network misbehaves;No,we don’t complain-the people around do; They rush to the proprietor’s house and do dharna;You too get the cable-box installed in your home, and watch the fun”.

With my husband in such a mood? No baba,no! Being an ardent votary of our Indian culture-heritage, he may throw the cable-box out! Along with me……….

Oh God, suddenly the star-line is again behaving like an influenza patient; As luck would have it, Government has declared three days mourning in honor of a departed soul, hence the cable-boys, staunch patriots that they are, have not turned up…so far………

I have taken up my pen.


Note: This skit was written when the cable had just made its appearance in our homes

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Nov 05, 2013
cable network
by: vimala ramu

Though I am sold over to the cable serials particularly 'Two and half men', I feel nothing to beat the 'class' of Doordarshan, their plays and music programs.
Well written Pankaja.

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