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Shri Nathji had discovered a Wire Recorder that was displayed in a shop at Mussoorie, and had told the boys about it. This was the first recording machine ever invented which was to be a precursor of the tape recorders to follow.
The recording of the voice was done on a wire as thin as an electrical fuse, several meters of which was wrapped around on a small disc that was played on the wire recorder. There was a microphone as well as an attached loudspeaker in the system so that a person could record one’s voice and also listen to it. The shopkeeper knew Shri Nathji would be interested in it because he had heard Shri Nathji speak so often at the Majestic and Rialto Theatres at Mussoorie.
The shopkeeper gave the wire recorder to Shri Nathji and asked him to try it out at home before deciding on whether to buy it or not. He knew that Shri Nathji never returned anything that he took, and that the bargain was as good as sealed once the machine had been taken home by Shri Nathji.
The boys were very excited about the machine. Pran Nath learnt the intricacies of running it and very soon they were recording their voices and listening to them with great fascination. It was the first time in their lives that they had ever had their voices recorded. Shri Nathji was so happy at seeing how much Pran Nath and Priya Nath liked the machine that he decided to buy it for their sake.
There was a shortage of money in the house at that time as Shri Nathji had just then made heavy payments to a lot of people for the house tax, water tax, electricity bills, garage bills for the cars, the road tax bills, the telephone bills, the payments to the servants, and generally the payments to the milk vendor and general merchant’s shops etc. He had also paid pending bills of Ranken and Company, the British tailors at Delhi who had made suits and achkans for the children and Shri Nathji.
The shopkeeper who had given the wire recorder was anxious that the payment be made early. He had reposed absolute confidence in Shri Nathji by giving him the wire recorder for use at home. Therefore Shri Nathji wished to pay for the machine at once. And so Shri Nathji mortgaged Mateshwari’s bangles and obtained the amount of sixteen hundred rupees for the purchase of the wire recorder. It was the one and only time in his life that he ever had to mortgage Mateshwari’s jewellery. He redeemed it soon after, before he left Mussoorie.
Shri Nathji recorded but one speech on the wire recorder, while the children used it for their plays in English and generally had fun with the machine, which was what Shri Nathji had wished for in the first place.
The incident showed the great self-sacrificing nature of Shri Nathji for the sake of the children. This was the general trait of his character for anyone–he could not refuse anyone anything, least of all his children whom he had pampered over the years as the most indulgent father in the world.
Mateshwari often felt that the western education had spoiled the boys and made them very demanding in their behaviour towards their parents, and she would often chide them for it. However, the only quarrels the boys ever had were with Mateshwari and never with Shri Nathji, because Shri Nathji never left any scope for disagreement. He always agreed with everything they said.
No father in the world could have been so loving towards his sons as Shri Nathji was towards Pran Nath and Priya Nath.
It was something the boys realised only afterwards in their lives. It was then that the incredible sacrifices that Shri Nathji had made for their sake came to their minds and made them truly grateful.
By the end of December 1955, Shri Nathji was still at Mussoorie trying to decide where to go. The Ford car was kept in a garage at the Library Bus Stand. The garage was located inside the bounding hill but was otherwise very secure. Shri Nathji was paying regular rent to the City Board, Mussoorie, for the garage.
He suddenly received a notice from them that they wished to use the garage for their own purposes and that therefore Shri Nathji must vacate it. This resulted in many problems for Shri Nathji, not the least of which was removing the car from the garage and placing it elsewhere.
Since the cars were not used for several months in Mussoorie, their batteries would be invariably discharged and the tyres flattened out, and much rust deposited on the iron parts. Shri Nathji also had to find a driver each time he attended to the cars, and he had to get in touch with people at Dehra Dun for the purpose, and had often to take the cars down to Dehra Dun for servicing.
Only Shri Nathji was capable of such exertions. His right arm had never fully recovered and his body was the most delicate in the world. It surprised people to see how much he laboured to maintain the cars.
All this was taking the toll of Shri Nathji’s precious time, but, for some reason, Shri Nathji did not sell the cars, and retained them as white elephants, which he used but once a year, whenever he went down to the plains during the winter holidays of the boys from December to March.
Shri Nathji never sold away anything that he had bought. He was too royal and too majestic in his habits to have done that. It was not in his nature to think in terms of worldly profits or losses. And thus the cars remained with him as sheer liabilities. Shri Nathji would refer to them as Pran-Priya’s cars, and each of the boys would show his preference for one of the cars. Pran Nath liked the Standard car made in England and Priya Nath liked the Ford car made in America.
In later years their preferences were to translate themselves into the countries they were to study in. Pran Nath chose England while Priya Nath chose America.