Friday, December 3, 2010

The music plays on

I spy a bit of winter blue sky broken by the branches of the gulmohar tree, with leaves browning in the dry air, and no sign of the blushing red blossoms that weigh its branches all through spring. The branches sway to the rhythm of ‘ thandi hawayein’ as Lata’s timeless voice goes on unendingly about the beautiful cold breeze.
Time doth fly. Am listening to a very old collection of oldies with voices and melody which till date remain unparalleled. Pity most of these folks aren’t around anymore.

Am thinking of Kolkata, when as a kid I used to be sent to a music school around my house. I loved music, but hated the regimental style of learning it. And to learn it from someone who I thought croaked like a frog! As a kid I used to despise the day of the week when my music teacher would come home and ask me to bring out the harmonium. She would systematically plonk it on the bed, make me sit opposite and then with a sense of grandeur sing a song that I would have to learn and sing the same way post practice.
I would occasionally gather some courage to say – “ I don’t like this song, can you teach me this instead”. She would size up this 4 feet something eight year old sitting opposite and then on second thought give in.
My mom would bring in the teacher’s tea and goad me on to sing louder. There never existed any sense of delicacy about the whole process.
In retrospect, it was actually quite funny. I would on purpose mess up the ragas, go off tune on Tagore songs and upset my teacher….till she gave up.

With my mission accomplished, I joined a little more democratic music school that I walked to post school few times each week. I would initially be intimidated by the enormity of talent around me. Most of my country cousins seemed so bursting with talent, that I felt pretty inadequate in every possible sense. I looked around and saw kids who would grow to sing and play music in big talent shows and with maestros like Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Zakhir Hussain. I usually saw myself in the audience and staring at them and clapping. I did harbour some fleeting dreams of being in the spotlight and in a resplendent red gown, with my hair done up with huge glittering earnings – entering a stage and all standing up to applaud. But it was a fleeting dream usually interrupted with my mom pulling my quilt off to get ready for school.

All of these musical rendezvous did end with pragmatism taking over…other things took priority. When I look back on all of this – I almost have an out of body experience. Doesn’t feel like it all happened to me. Seems like I was observing my life happening around me. And taking notes. Some of those notes make me cringe. Some make me smile. And some make me wonder, if it was really me.
The one thing am certain of is that if time could be turned around, I would indeed be in the black and white era, where most things existed in black and white. Where the white was white and the black was unadulterated black. Absolutes. Not many greys. And these golden voices sang unendingly.