Phone has come a long way from being a luxury to becoming a necessity. Earlier days, there used to be one phone at home, which was used not only by the owners but also neighbors, incase of emergencies defined by them. Now we have a cell-phone for each member of the family.
When I was a kid, my dad's office provided a grey color telephone. He used to be very strict about using it. We could not talk much on the phone. Conversations longer that a certain time would be met by cold stares from my mom. The dial used to be the old circular one with numbers. The fun was to hear the numbers actually being dialed to connect to the other person.
The phone did teach me some manners. As a kid, I had this annoying habit of saying "What?" so loudly that it would startle the person hearing it. Many times, if the voice on the other side was feeble and I could not hear I would scream "What?" and the person on other side would just apologize and keep down the phone. The funniest part was even though (s)he would not hear what I said before, (s)he would clearly hear my "WHAT?". Finally, with some sermons from the family and my own common sense, I became more polite on the phone.
The amusing part was the amount of wrong numbers we used to get. One can literally get anyone’s calls from around the country. Of course, it was bothersome, but with some creativity, it was be fun picking up these phone calls. For sometime, we used to receive calls asking whether it was Tihar Jail. After denying it innumerable number of times, my mom finally responded "Which crook do you want to talk to?" This surprisingly put an end to it.
One of the other callers would insist on talking to a certain Mr X , who is supposed to live below our house. We said emphatically that there is no such person but the calls persisted. Finally I told him that we live on the ground floor (1 floor in US standards) and it is impossible for someone to live below us and if he still wants to talk, I would be the last person to go and get Mr X.
I shared many friendships over this phone. One particular day, while in conversation with my friend, I had to keep the phone down and she promised to call back immediately. When the phone rang shortly, assuming that it was her, I picked up the phone and said "Hello Devil!". There was a long silence and finally my dad's friend spoke “Hello beta(child), can you call your dad?". You can imagine my shock. I apologized profusely and requested him not to mention a word to my dad. He, being very kind, obliged and I am still alive to write this post.
This phone has heard various emotions of our life. It became more a part of the family than just being an equipment. Later, when features of caller id and call waiting became popular, we still kept the same instrument but did have another phone with all these features.
We finally had to part with it, when my dad retired. Even though I have used other phones and cell phones with all jazzy features, this phone still remains dear to me. I know its number by heart and wonder many times, to whom does it belong now.