Unspooled

Do you mind if I played oldies on the music system I asked as I prepared to get dinner ready. Saathi nodded and on an afterthought said perhaps we should dig out the old tapes and play them. I mixed the batter for adai when Saathi called out “Tamizh or Hindi?”.

“Tamizh” I responded without thinking. A familiar tune from ‘Bombay’ filled the room and transported me to years in the past. I hummed along as I poured out the batter on the sizzling tawa. Dotting the edges with fat, I enjoyed the mix of smells and sounds when the music came to a screeching halt.

Saathi rushed to take a look. Our fifteen year old tape player finally seemed to have breathed its last. The tape unspooled and spilled over. Turning the stove off the kids and I joined Saathi to pay homage to the system and the collection of tapes that had seen us through a very checkered life.

In the days before we got married when phone calls were once over the weekend, Saathi would share how his week had been. A lot of it would involve listening to music as he got ready for work and music as he ended his day. I would share the music that haunted my soul and we looked forward to merging our musical tastes.

As a newly married couple in a tiny apartment, I learned to appreciate Illayaraja and he to appreciate Savage Garden. Our road trips meant sharing a lot of the stories behind each track and why they meant so much to each of us. The years passed and our CD collection grow albeit slowly. The tapes still were a treasure. One we fell back on to soothe our troubled souls when the darkness threatened to overcome us.

We resisted the urge to buy a newer system as the trusty Aiwa represented more than just a box that played music. It connected us to our past and represented our shared existence as much as our wedding album did.

So today when it wheezed and breathed its last, a cloud of melancholy descended on us. The air felt heavy and the mood dark. We bent our heads and paid our respects before tearfully bidding adieu.

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