It all came back in rushes, that one doomed day.
It was either the fact that I was up since 4AM (somehow reminded my brain of the old Diwali days, I guess) or a recent conversation that I had with pEePeE, that got me hooked on to a totally different wavelength of music. Definitely not a genre new to me, since it is customary for every Iyer household to make sure their daughters learnt carnatic music or Bharatnatyam and their sons knew how to play the mridangam. But I surprised myself by listening to M S Subbulakshmi, K J Yesudas, and the likes, all day, reeling in the memories attached to each of those songs.
The earliest memories are brought to life by Yesudas’ rendition of Harivarasanam and SPB’s Aayar Paadi Maaligaiyil. They some how remind me of early days in the Rock City, when I was too young to comprehend good from bad. These “had to be” the tunes the Gods sang to put us to sleep each night, tired from vandalising the neighborhood. It is the same tranquilizing calm I feel every time I listen to these songs. I close my eyes and see myself running through tiny rooms, the walls distinctively highlighted by our crayon artwork. There is a baby-swing hanging bang in the center of the bedroom with the life size mirror in one corner. Bang Center? Wait! Where would that place the fan? Interesting! Heck that’s how I remember it, so it stays. I run out into the make-shift portico and stare out of the grilled partition. God’s Yezdi stands under the neem tree, three, or was it four, floors down. Or was it peepul? Was there a tree at all?
Pancharatna Kritis, unquestionably, remind me of days in the Garden City. Summers in the at-home summer camp, with mid noon walks up to the temple, only to practise for the umteenth time. I remember all the coloring books, action figures and the ingenious games waiting for us, with dimple studded faces, while we sat there singing the same lines over, till we got the perfect twist and got it in unison, as a group. Those gruelling sessions definitely helped the ones who eventually took their art to the stage. But for poor disinterested me, they were but distractions, the bridges between me and my interests; surprisingly similar to work in today’s mindset.
Entharo gets specific mention among the others in the set. Not as much for being the sweet kriti, marking the end of the long and tiresome lineup, as for being the one that reminds me of God, every single time. I can still picture him in every other place that he would tune it up and sing along, head rocking in every direction, hands zestfully tapping along. We could see him get the same degree of pleasure listening to it, as H would out of Santana. Or is it Metallica now?
Snap! and I was back to triage calls and post deploy validation. The wheel keeps on turning doesn’t it! This is where the day stands clear in my mind. As I listened to each song, humming along and redoing some of those almost forgotten tricks with the tunes, I realized that deep down inside I missed it. All of this felt like an integral part of who I was, what my upbringing was and I was worried that with each passing generation, this rich tradition was going to slowly fade away. Would that leave me with grand children in thrash bands?
Had I listened to God’s Ma’s wishes and given up studies to take up her passion, would I have made it big? Would I have had records to my credit and a fan following to live for? We would never know. Would I have had the pleasure of turning to something apart from the lame work I go to everyday? Would this have kept me going through some dark, gloomy days? Would this have earned me a new boy friend? We would never know that, either.
Would all these questions stop me from listening to them again? No. That much I was sure; for at the end of the day, I had enjoyed myself thoroughly, not once missing the Maidens and Metallicas of the other world.
So I live a king’s life indeed; Vishnu sahasranamam to wake me up and Dire Straits to lull me to sleep. Rich in all the music around me after all. And who is not!