The Miracleme Story 05-Disaster
Daddy had his regular Monday, Sports round up to record for the brand new National Channel of AIR which had its studios in the Nehru Stadium. His script was ready but his voice was down and out.
His throat had gone for a six and here I was a 3rd year college student almost on her knees cajoling him, persuading him to please ask AIR people if his daughter could read out the script instead of him.
Poor guy. I must have irritated the hell out of the patient person he was. Half a day was spent with me in tears and him vehemently refusing, simply because it wasn’t possible. I however, could not understand what the big deal was even if I was not a graduate yet? What had a good reading out loud (I didn't even know the term voice-over then) got to do anything with age or a degree???
A man who helped innumerable friends and acquaintances by putting in that ‘one word’’ to get work done, be it a school admission or a job transfer, refused to help his own daughter!
My mother and brother could see my anguish no longer. They requested Daddy too, to help me somehow.
Eventually, towards the end of the day, he agreed!!! Agreed to take me to All India Radio.
I could hardly sleep that night.
Every time over the years that I passed Parliament Street, I would crane my neck to see the insides of that red brick and white painted building. I would match my watch with the AIR clock and imagine myself walking its corridors one day.
That day was to be the next morning. I had butterflies the size of gigantic dinosaurs (for want of a better bigger and frightening being to compare with).
Day break and I was ready to go! 9 am we were to catch DTC bus number 560 from the main road. I sat with my dad right behind the conductor’s first single seat in the front. We hardly spoke from Safdarjung Enclave to Parliament Street.
As the bus turned right from the Parliament circle, there I could see the majestic building. The road outside it jet black with a fresh layer of tar.
The corridors of AIR that I longed to walk
As the AIR bus stop approached I stood up and looked towards Daddy. Excitement writ large on my face.
He looked straight into my eyes, moved not an inch from the seat and said, “yahan uttar kar, andar reception mein jaana, pass banwana and ask for the Yuva Vani section” (Get down at this bus-stop, go to the reception, get a pass made and ask for the Yuva Vani section).
I was flummoxed and speechless. My eyebrows went up and my jaw went down!!!
He gave me what looked a challenging yet encouraging smile and motioned only with expressions as if to say “move on girl, you are on your own from now”
I felt dejected, hurt and nervous all at the same moment. He left me on my own? To fend for myself? I am never going to speak to him again. Humpf!
Ok then, I said to myself, put my head up and walked into the reception.
On my turn, the gentleman at the reception could immediately gather it was my first time. As I wrote my full name in the register, he read it aloud and looked straight at me and said, “C. S Rao ki beti ho kya?” (Are you C.S.Rao’s daughter?). I proudly said yes and asked him the way to Yuva Vani.
THE HISTORIC MOMENT
That historic moment when I finally, walked the corridors of All India Radio! If I was good with words I could tell you how elated I felt. A feeling of belonging. A feeling of owning the place.
I walked through the circular open corridor, with rooms on my right and a manicured garden with lots of monkeys on my left, looking for the Yuva Vani section.
I had an A4 size paper with a one-fourth size resume occupying it that mentioned my name, my father's, my address, my school education and my yet to be completed college education.
I proudly presented the same to another gentleman in a room of 5 such men sitting on 5 rusted tables with heaps of paper and grey torn files from the medieval era. The only thing from the present era seemed to be smell of freshly brewed tea in mini glasses, that I saw on each table.
The person I handed my precious resume to, repeated what I did not want to hear. "Oh, you are not a graduate yet? Finish your graduation, get your degree then come back.”
"But I am sure to pass my exams", I said, feebly now. He laughed and went through the 10 sentences that made my resume, again. He laughed, went back on the rickety chair that squeaked in pain, put his hand in the drawer and took out an envelope. “Ooo, so, you are Rao sahab’s daughter!! I have been asking him to take his cheque for long, good that you came. Please give it to him”
Now, as you know, at that moment, I was not on talking terms with my Daddy! But what to do, all the sanskars that were bestowed on us made me smile back and take the cheque from the elderly person. He motioned me towards Yuva Vani.
I reached the section.
No one wanted to see my resume. All I was told was ma’am is not around. I was asked to write my contact details in a long register that had columns like the one we now fill up while entering gated apartment colonies.
Dhat. The beginnings of Radio couldn’t be this boring?!
If I sat down to describe the room, you would go into a mini depression the way I did. There was nothing romantic about it. Matter of fact. Green metal tables, grey dull boring rusted steel almirahs, papers papers everywhere and almost everything there seemed to have the mark left behind by a chai ka cup. (tea cup).
As I finished jotting down my details, a young man manning the register asked if I could do a show for them the next week.
My ears buzzed. Did I hear a show? Next week? Could I?
OF COURSE I COULD!
And there that day, I landed with my first show on radio. As easy as that!
It was a quiz show. I was the quiz master. I had to research and make questions for 4 or 5 rounds with some more put in for tie-breakers. The next Thursday, 1 pm, I would be ON-AIR.
I had arrived in life.
I thank Amma and Bhaiya for persuading Daddy to at least take me till AIR.
I learnt that day- My Dad did the best for me. He let me be on my own.
To him I credit, having achieved everything on my own. Not just that day but throughout my life. Not a word put in anywhere. Not a phone call made.
My first radio show as I said, was a disaster.
A complete disaster.
TO BE CONTINUED . . . . .