This incident happened many moons ago. But I remember it as if it was yesterday. My father gets very excited and involved in the purchase of anything new. He spends weeks gathering pamphlets, relevant or otherwise, about the product he intends buying. Then after several weeks of agonizing indecisiveness, he settles for a brand on which he has no research material. It is a sure-fire success strategy that he has adopted for many decades. We usually wait till the process is over before quietly trashing all the pamphlets.
That year, he had gone in for a new colour television. It was a major financial decision in the early days. Add to the whole equation that we lived in a remote hill-station, and bringing the television home requires ingenuity of a different kind. Rightfully, there was much ado in the house and neighbourhood.
My brother loves fiddling around with gadgets of all sizes and shapes. Around 90% of the conversation between father and son at that point in time revolved around how my brother should not be fiddling around with things that did not concern him. That being the background, my brother decided to rope me in on his scheme to fluster my father.
A while later, I nonchalantly called my father for watching a program. He strolled in, we switched on the television, and only the audio would come on. He kept pressing the remote, but you just couldn’t get any video signals. I suggested in a worried tone that the picture tube may be out. I still have my father’s picture taken then in my mind’s camera. He was genuinely worried – I can make an attempt at the list of things that would have been crossing his mind at the time, but it would probably be too long, and varied.
My brother had the look of a stuffed frog in the background, bursting at my dad’s perplexity. Finally, it was he who gave it away since he could no longer stifle his giggles. He had reduced the brightness to zero, and the contrast to the highest setting so that the video signals would always be black.
I loved that 1st of April joke, and we still joke about it! I wonder what our kids are going to do to us!