The other day I opened Netflix to find this staring me in the face. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It took me back in time to when He-Man and the rest of his gang were a regular feature in our home.
Those were the days when there was only Doordarshan (an Indian public service broadcaster founded by the Government of India, owned by the Ministry of Information) to go to for anything to watch. On weekdays there was nothing to watch the while day, things coming alive only in the evenings. But the weekends were different, there would be programs right from morning, starting with children’s fare and graduating to ones for those older as the day progressed. Cartoons of Donald Duck, Pluto, Mickey Mouse and of course He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were the usual fare for children.
First Born – he was probably four at the time – would be in front of the television promptly on Sunday mornings to lap it all up. With nothing better to do, since it was just the two of us with the L&M away on duty, I would watch the shows with him. Besides I am a huge Pluto fan. The First-Born’s favorite was He-Man. The tagline, ‘By the power of Grayskull!’ was his favorite. It was enacted with aplomb while holding aloft a stick, and later a plastic sabre which I got for him, much like He-Man does in the cartoon series..
One thing about the He-Man cartoon time was how every ten minutes (Or was it five?) there would be a break for ads. The title picture would flash on screen and the tagline of the show could be heard: ‘By the power of Grayskull!” with accopmanying chants of “He-Man, He-Man!” This was followed by a few advertisements and then it was back to He-Man and his adventures.
Every break, without fail, the First Born would turn to me and ask, ‘Amma, theernno?” (Is it over, mom?) In his heart obviously he knew the show wasn’t over, but he would ask anyway. It seemed to be his way to seek assurance that his favorite He-Man would indeed return to the screen for more of his viewing pleasure. Every weekend, every ten (or five!) minutes of the show, he asked the very same question.
Bored of answering him, I decided to do something. The next time I heard, ‘By the power of Grayskull….’ on the television indicating a break was on, I quickly turned to him and asked in all earnestness, with no hint of laughter whatsoever, ‘Theernno, mone?‘ (Is it over, son?’). He turned to look at me, a tiny smile playing on his face. Mom was surely teasing him? Mom knows it isn’t over. Why was she asking him? I could almost see the wheels turning inside his head.
As for me, I looked my part, innocence personified, just someone genuine seeking an answer. He knew something was amiss, but with mom looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth what could he do? He felt obliged to answer me. “No, it isn’t over,” he said. I wasn’t done, of course. Every subsequent break in the show, I asked him the same question before he could ask me. Guess what, after this exercise he watched his show without any more questions. Meanie mom, right?
When Netflix showed me this new version of the old show, memories came flooding back. I immediately took a picture and dashed it off to the son. In our next family chat session, inevitably so, I had to recount the above story all over again. Yes, I am the keeper of family tales and I love telling them, much as they, hopefully so, like to listen. Well, they do not have an option! 😉
© Shail Mohan 2021