Thursday, January 05, 2006

Blackouts: An experience in Time dilation.

Everything went black at 6:30 p.m. yesterday evening.

The Sun was still hanging on to the last few clouds. The unexpected blackout found us scurrying around for the candle and the kerosene lamp. The lamp had existed since the time my grandfather was still earning; and my father a student. It had seen a half dozen students thrash out their exam woes and come out in superb colours. So we had decided not to replace it with the new fangled 'Backup flash lamps'. That would completely beat the purpose of a blackout.

Ajji settled down comfortably on the floor mat with a bucket full of avarekaaLu pods to peel. This let her sit down for while, keep herself occupied, chat, and in the meanwhile get some useful work done. My aunt realised that her favourite Kannada soap had started, in all the television sets of the world except the dark one that sat in the corner. That explained her fidgeting with the newspaper, pretending to read a full page in few seconds. I was on the bed beside reading a section of my current book Electron: Physics for everyone. At that time, the electrons were deciding whether to team up as super couples and coast along the lattice, or just carry on their usual lone battles with the oscillating bully moleclues blocking their way out to the most attractive terminal.

Ajji brought up her favourite topic. Thatha, her husband. She loved telling stories of how as a revenue inspector, he would ride around on his bicycle from village to village checking out if even the smallest farmer had made sure his patch of green was blooming, and he had paid the government his dues, and if all was well everywhere. She would even recount her son's pranks of filling in water in his father's lunch boxes, and packing them off on a hot summer day. His father's fury that noon was something we still have a good laugh at.

Many stories and smiles later, it was time for dinner. Steaming rice with piping hot saaru never turned anyone away. The kerosene lamp was attracting a new kind of attention. We simply had to capture it for posterity. So came out the camera, and the dozen designer clicks.

The surreal mood suddenly burst like a balloon. Power had been restored. Instinct turned us towards the wall clock. In those adventures, those black and white tales of honour, and moments of pride, we had slowly gained many hours in time.

The time was 8:00 p.m.

1 comment:

Deepak Krishnan said...

hi swaroop,
powercutdu majaa ne bere...