Today is a very special day for Deep. The School Final Board Exam starts today. The exam centre is a bit far away, and, he has to catch a public bus which is normally crowded. Hence he has to set out a bit early, so that he can afford to avoid boarding on a crowded one, and try the next one. It is at that moment someone asked “do you have a wristwatch to carry ?” Deep did not have one, and everyone agreed that he needed to carry one. There are two exam-papers to appear today. Each of two hours duration. One has to calculate judiciously time allocation for attempting each of the six long questions on every session ! Those days the fashion was to write long exam papers, especially on the literature subjects. Deep’s dad said “ My elder sister had an old watch, let me check if it still works”. Soon he took out the same from a tin trunk. He wound the spring key till the end, and after a bit shaking it started rolling. It was a square dialled wrist watch…. she was a health nurse and Deep did not have any hesitation to wear it. After all the exams were over, about a week later, Deep returned the watch to his father…. after all it is a memory item for his father, and, it was placed back to the tin trunk.
Deep is now in college doing his university studies. He still did not manage to have a watch on his own….. and yes, bringing out the same-old watch during exam days continued during university exams too during next 3 Years. During this period Deep got interested to own a wrist watch….. an Indian brand called HMT. There was a small outlet of this brand on the Park Street in Calcutta, at a departmental store called Hall & Anderson. One has to stand in a queue early in the morning, and, the limited number of pieces was always got exhausted within an hour and a large number of people never got a chance to procure the watches…. they always came back the next day a bit earlier to try their luck again.
Deep’s first job, right after his university education was in Bangalore. His office was at a tall building called Unity Building, and, lo behold there was an outlet of HMT watches. Deep never missed to spend time peeping through the show-windows on the various watches. Kamat Restaurant was on the same building…. so this is how the rest of the lunch break was spent! He was very encouraged to note that there was not much crowd, and, they had enough stock. On the first salary day he decided to buy a watch. The salary he got was 265/-. In fact the salary was 300/- ,but, 35/- was deducted as p.f. During that after noon very boldly he entered the show-room and he was happy that the salesman in the counter very sincerely showed him various models. Two models he liked, one named Janata…. it was the cheapest available… Rs. 99/-. Then there was this model called Sona costing Rs. 125/-.Deep felt it was a bit costly one, but so what… after all it is his hard earned money any way !
It is a regular jouney now, to and fro Bangalore. Deep always preferred to have a long bath at the Madras station on his way from Bangalore to Calcutta. Madras was the change over station. This trip was not an exception. By the time he came out of the washroom, it was already time to catch the connecting train to Calcutta. He was literally running on the platform…. it was at the time he had a feeling that some one was shouting and was trying to catch up with him behind…. he too was almost running. Deep stopped, and looked behind… and he realised that this gentle man was indeed waiving at him from behind. He came near Deep. He was a dhoti clad middle aged man and spoke good English “ I was at the next wash basin when you were washing your face…. I saw you placing your watch at one corner of your wash basin. And then you hurriedly turned back , started running towards the platform without taking your watch ! Since then I was chasing you…. but I was no match for you…. you were too fast !” Deep profusely thanked the gentleman, and, Sona was back to its rightful owner !
It was a long flight from Bangalore. I was again working at this city after a gap of about 15 years. I always felt very cold during a flight and always carried a heavy sweater. I always put the sweater on before boarding at the craft and seldom took it out. The flight almost reached Calcutta when I took out the sweater, folded them neatly, stashed it in the carry bag before landing. When I reached home it was already late night. I took out the coins, a few rupee notes ( I do not carry a money purse !) from the trouser’s pocket…. it was at this point Pakhi, my wife, noticed that I have the watch but only the disc ! All the golden dial needles…. even the glass cover vanished…. it is a good for nothing piece now ! Was it at the Bangaloe guest house, that it got broke.. that I must have dashed with the door or something ? No, it could not be…. I checked my watch several times when the flight had a delayed departure. “Don’t bother, it was any way an old one…. it is not a great issue to be upset about”- my wife was trying to console me. Frankly, I felt sorry….. I was sure even if I wanted, I could not get it renovated……HMT never made those models any more !
It is winter again ! Time for the warm clothing to show their faces again. Since morning Pakhi is busy washing sweaters of varied colours and sizes for all the family members. Suddenly she rushed to me in the front room and said “tell me if I give you something very dear to you, what prize would you give me !” “Well, well may be a dinner in the nearby Chinese Restaurant for all ……. but tell me what it is “ ? She opened her palm… lo behold…. here they are….. the needles of my Sona….. the second-needle…. the minute-needle…. the hour-needle. They look more glittery now with a gentle soap wash. “They were all stuck in your sweater…… and next time you take out your sweater please remove your wrist watch first”.
With the advent of mobile phones none of us use watches any more. Not even Sona makes any guest appearance any more, except for photo-shoot for a blog write-up like this !
The era of wrist watch is gone. Mobile phone has replaced it. But Sona lives on…….