DECADES back, the black and white Doordarshan channel was the only source of drawing-room entertainment. When I dropped in at the sprawling house of the Shankars, the hall was empty, but for Susheela, the daughter-in-law. ‘Where are your in-laws?’ I asked, after the mandatory exchange of civilities. ‘In the library watching TV.’ She mentioned an old Tamil movie.
I peeped into the library. The hero and the heroine were engaged in a romantic scene. I retreated unobtrusively. ‘Did you notice?’ she asked coyly. ‘Yes, your father-in-law is watching TV. How come? Can he see?’ ‘No. His vision has gone. Even the last surgery did not help.’
‘But the TV… what of it?’
She looked at me sharply, ‘But he can hear, can’t he? His cochlears are razor-sharp, a compensatory boon. He enjoys songs that go on and on.’
I asked why her mother-in-law was sitting close to her husband, but had her back turned to the TV! ‘An admirable observation, Mr Holmes! Her take is that she should deny herself the pleasures of visual entertainment.’
‘Really? You know Mahabharata?’
‘Who wouldn’t? Gandhari went about blindfolding herself, denying the faculty of sight her husband did not enjoy.’
‘But, that is mythology. Are we not in the 21st century?’ I asked incredulously.
She held up her hand to cut me short, her lips curving into a mischievous smile. ‘Did you not notice a steel cupboard opposite the television set?’ I shook my head.
‘You men are gullible. Don’t see beyond the end of your nose. My mother-in-law is indeed watching the movie… through the full-length mirror!’
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