It lay in our bedroom - a small suitcase sized rectangular box covered with green leather, on a table next to a shuttered cupboard that contained a treasure trove of 78 rpm records. The inside of this box was taken up by a baize covered turntable and an 'S shaped tube ending in a flat mushroom-shaped 'head with a small aperture and screw arrangement meant to hold a tiny steel needle. Two triangular pivoting mini drawers adorned two corners of the box. One of these was used to store unused needles, while the other was meant for used ones. A cranking handle could be seen snugly fitted into holding clips on the inner side of the cover. The contraption had a built-in sound box, or speaker in todays parlance, which was an improvement on the large flower-shaped megaphone like bhoonpoo seen on the 'His Masters Voice logo. This then was the gramophone, a forerunner of the record player and the current day hi-fi stereo systems. The machine was operated by fixing an unused needle in the 'head and then fitting the cranking handle in a slot on the side. A record was placed on the turntable and a mechanical system inside the machine was cranked up to start the turntable in a revolving motion. As the record began to rotate, the head was placed gently on its fringe and viola - you had your music. To us, this was magic and for some time we were convinced that tiny creatures had been locked up inside the box to entertain us. This was the golden period of the mid-fifties and our 'land of the pure was not the cesspool of violence it is today. Relationships were simple, without malice and it was often that families - even extended ones, got together over weekends for fun and relaxation. It was the same with us and Saturday mornings saw our aunts, uncles and cousins from the walled city arrive at our house for some well earned relaxation. Many of these weekends were spent in my grandfathers mango garden near Walton Airport and the gramophone would accompany us. Sundays were not spent in sleeping and everyone got up early to get the maximum fun out of the day. Breakfast consisted of Kashmiri Tea and bakarkhani, punctuated some days by nihari and khamiri roti from Sami Dehelvis famous establishment in Paisa Akhbar. This done, a white chandni or sheet would be spread in the sitting room and the gramophone placed in the center along with a huge stack of records. There was stuff in these records for everyone - the children would roll with laughter whenever the 'Laughing Song was put on. This was a funny number sung by an English performer and consisted of lyrics amply interspersed with rhythmic laughter as a refrain. I remember that the flip side of this record contained a musical number called 'Ladies of Cadiz. The records were a collectors windfall by todays standards. They included K.C. Dey, Pahari Sanyal, Saigol, Pankhaj Malik, Kanan Devi, Khurshid and Akhtari Bai Faizabadi. I remember my parents listening spellbound to ghazals, thumris and dadras rendered by these legends. One of these records, which always caused us children to snicker naughtily had the lyrics sayiyan teri godi men gainda ban jaoongi. It was the annoyed looks from my mother that would force us to leave the room, whenever this record was being played. A part of my parents collection had been bought from a store opposite the Sun Light Building near Nila Gumbad. I dont remember the exact name, but the spot was, probably, an outlet of the Gramophone Company of Pakistan. I remember visiting this place with my mother and being gifted my first record, as a child of 10. These gramophone sessions became even more enjoyable at the onset of the monsoon season. With dark clouds covering the sky accompanied by lightning, thunder and pelting rain, the whole family would gather in the verandah of our house. We would sit on easy chairs, tucking in pakoras and gulgulas, while our green box would entertain us with Khurshid singing her Malhar from the film Taan Sen. Some years ago, I visited an old antique store in Lahore and stopped dead in my tracks - for there before me lay an exact replica of our gramophone. I walked up to it reverently, but the price tag gave me a shock. On a revisit, some days later I found the machine gone sold, perhaps, to someone with the means and the urge to relive old memories. They sky above me still darkens with monsoon clouds, lightning still flashes and thunder rolls, but I miss the old gramophone with its immortal records, for through it we discovered something that is now missing from our lives - the opportunity for the family to get together and bond. The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.