Ancient and Modern

BY: Sandra

I need a cassette player to buy.  Where can I find one, please? I can hear you ask, “Ablah koraaaaa, what is it again, this time around?  What on earth does she need a cassette player for?”  Is there not a cause?  I need it for a practical training programme in my home.

On Saturday, I decided to rummage through some boxes I hadn’t opened since I moved in with Obodai.  They contain books I used for my A Levels.  They were occupying space in my cute apartment and had to be disposed of. 

With the help of a nose mask, I carefully brought out the books one by one.  And I made use of a nose mask because dust from old books can be very very dangerous.  Many a librarian have fallen victim to allergies of all sorts.  Those dust mites from aged books can really pose a health risk.  Let’s all be mindful of them.

Those books brought back sweet sweet memories of my life as a sixth former. I’m not too sure about now, but in our days, school was really fun.  Even as an egya ba with haaaaard labour, I still enjoyed school.

 I really felt nostalgic when I chanced upon an extremely flattened letter a mate of mine who attended Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (PRESEC), Legon, wrote me. Hahahahahaaaaa, the guy was in so much love; his diction on paper was simply amazing. 


He told me about the kind of future he envisaged for us two and gave me every reason to reciprocate his love.  In his words, “I dream good dreams at just the thought of you.  Ablah, you’re an amazing marriage material.  Please say YES”.  I smiled at myself as I read those barely clear lines.  I still don’t remember why I refused his proposal; I’m trying hard to remember.  

Come to think of it, what did we know about love at that age?  17/18-year-olds!  The pen marks had become very faint when I attempted to unfold the four-sectioned ruled limp, else I would have typed a copy of his “lyrics” here. 

As I kept offloading box after box, I came across something interesting – a SONY WALKMAN WM-D3 Stereo Cassette-Corder.  It was hidden in between one of my textbooks.  Tears welled in my eyes as I drew it out to examine its present state.  It was in a fantastic physical and working condition with  minor blemishes.

 I remembered how I adored that device and how I was the envy of some of my mates in school.  They didn’t understand why an egya ba should own such a device.  It wasn’t common in those days for one to possess a Walkman.  But an uncle’s friend who returned from the UK a year earlier had blessed me with the Walkman. 

She worked as a chambermaid in a hotel in London.  A client who had used one of the rooms she cleaned had left it there, and so she kept it for me and brought it along when she was coming to Ghana for holidays.  

Through menial jobs I did during the vacation that followed after it had been passed down to me, I saved to buy some batteries and cassettes.  With the help of a friend who had a music studio, I got lots and lots of recordings onto a pack of 12 TDK cassettes.

 I used to study with my ears clogged with the Walkman’s large earphones, during prep at school.  Oooooh I miss those times. Amazing how technological advancements have transformed those devices into simple MP3/MPA4 devices that can play hundreds of music for hours.

Not wanting to place the Walkman I had discovered back in the box, I sent it to the living room and placed it on top of the TV set.  Almost immediately, my 16-year-old niece who had come over for the weekend asked, “Antie Ablah, what is this?”  That question made me feel very very old. 

Looking at her innocent face, “it’s used for playing music”, I responded.  “Music?  How?” She asked as she picked up the rectangular device which was riddled with various knobs, to examine it.  “Can it use a pen drive?” She asked.  I simply stood there admiring her innocent face.

There and then I pressed the eject button to show her that the thing that plays the music was called a cassette.  “What is a cassette?” She asked again. I was getting frustrated by her questions.  How was I to explain to her that the sealed plastic unit containing a length of film wound on a pair of spools, was what I was calling a cassette? 

“Antie bring out the cassette and let me see how it’s like”.  I did and attempted to plug in the cord to play music.  She needed to see how it worked.  It all seemed like a strange invention to her.  Modern children!  Obviously, the little machine had been tucked away for too long, it refused to function. 

A second look at the cassette indicated that the film in the cassette was torn too.  I promised my niece there was a way of unscrewing the cassette to carefully join the torn film and get it working. 

I was too tired to join the torn ends on Saturday evening so I did that on Sunday afternoon.  She watched with joy as I carefully mended the film with the help of cello tape.  She clapped for me as if I were a heroine dropped from another planet. 

I have promised to play the cassette for my niece to have a feel of “cassette music”.  Where can I get a small one to buy?  She says she will be back to spend the weekend with us before the end of the month.

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