Sunday, July 31, 2011

The forgotten song

I'm cheating this time. This one's a mix of a lot of previous ones. I wrote it a while back (or compiled it, maybe) and thought I should put it up. But mostly, its something that came out of a re-visit to the soul stirring Confluence of Elements by Bombay Jayashri.


...sounds like dew drops in the morning...

She heard an echo inside her head and opened her eyes. It was still pitch dark. The sound of moving vehicles filled her ears. She had moved into a house near the highway and soon got used to the noise. But what about the silence inside her? Was she getting used to that too? She didn’t want to think about it. She sat up and opened her eyes wider. They pierced the darkness and looked ahead into...nothingness - an empty room, empty walls, and empty shelves, all reflecting her emptiness. She did not want to think of that either. She opened her window and stared up into the heavens. The clouds were moving lazily, engulfing the stars with their transparent greyness, and the wind was swishing swiftly, as if beckoning the drizzle to join it on a mysterious odyssey. It all looked like some sort of celestial dance to music she couldn’t really hear. She thought she was being teased by the forces of nature. She closed her eyes, and her face remained tilted towards the open skies, as if she were awaiting the return of the breeze. She thought she could finally hear the music...the melancholies of broken promises and broken hearts, of unwritten poems and unsung songs.

...sounds like dew drops in the morning...

The words hit her again, this time with a fresh dose of nostalgia, of happier times, when there was music in place of the silence. She could not lose herself to music anymore. In fact, she could not lose herself to anything other than the abyss of silence and emptiness within her. She picked up her bag and reached for the little present Vedha had given her. ‘Listen to it,’ she had said, her eyes full of concern. She looked at it for the first time. Confluence of Elements, the title read, with a picture of the singer Bombay Jayashri Ramnath looking so admirably peaceful with the tambura in her hands. It was her that Vedha had described a long time ago as having a voice like dew drops in the morning. ‘No wonder my mind kept bringing the words back,’ she thought. She didn’t believe this could do anything, but she thought she might try. Just for her friend.

Jagadhodharana...She let the music play and walked to the balcony. She recognised the Kapi raagam which would have instantly called to her some time ago, but today, she felt nothing. She heard the beautiful voice and the contemporary music, so different from the traditional instruments used for Carnatic music, she thought. Moments into the music she found her mind wandering into the shadows of the past, like the divine tune was mere background music in the stage of her life. She found it amusing, that nothing pulled her heart’s strings anymore. Was she all stone now? She wondered. The notes from the strings of the Sarangi reached her ears, bringing with them beats from a Tabla and a tune from the flute, so light, she thought it could be floating. She felt so full of her of emptiness, it was overflowing. Slowly, she found herself rising and falling with the waves in her ocean of voids. She heard it now, like a revelation brought to her by the breeze... Purandhara Vitalana the voice was singing. There was a sudden power in the immensely soulful voice that was claiming her undivided attention...pulling her towards it...demanding that she doesn’t ignore it. She didn’t understand the lyrics, but she could feel the chills running down her spine; she had to hold on to something to stop her hands from trembling.

Now there she was listening like never before; the piano, the guitar and the mesmerising voice that was singing her pain, her heart-wrenching pain. She felt a little less solid, like melting butter... a little less composed and a little more tranquil at the same time. She was running madly through a maze, and could finally find her way out... The whole world was in a swirl, and there she could finally witness the dance of life...a slow dance, in perfect harmony with everything, waltzing its way to the inner core of her very being. And somewhere within the enticing force that was music, there was surrender...there was rapture...there was a feeling of being consumed by the unknown, and a desire never to return. And a thousand heartbreaks burst out in a single tear, which remained in her eye for a moment, glistening, making the stars twinkle more than usual. She let it roll down and take with it a sea of despair...all her pain... all that made her deaf to music...all the silence that consumed that single tear just drenched her and cleansed every bit of her disturbed soul. Every note she heard was a part of a beautiful story...was an escape from what had been...was ethereal glue that brought broken pieces together...was her truth revealing itself...was a realm of almost-attainable liberation. Moksham.

The music eventually stopped playing. She stared into the rising sun which was sincerely painting the skies fiery shades of orange and pink...she smiled. She was back from what felt like a journey. She thought of life, its blacks and whites, and its more prominent greys...isn’t life like a musical composition? It has its ascending portions and its descending portions, its high notes and its low notes, its flat notes and its flowery notes... and each one of them comes, and goes, giving way to other notes because if they don’t, there cannot be a musical piece. And at the end, what stays with us is not a single note, but the song itself, to which every note counts...

She walked into the kitchen and threw some tea leaves into hot water. She felt strangely serene, mildly inspired. She could still hear the pleading tones of the Sarangi, they were tugging at her heart. She found herself humming a song in the Kapi raagam while she brought the cup up to her mouth and sipped her tea. It smelled of hope.

Yours "block!" ly

Signing off....

Friday, February 25, 2011


They had shared a peculiar bond. One which was, but was not. One which had lulled its way into her life many a time, remained silent, lurking, suddenly appearing around the corner. They had walked together through the dark shadow, and another, and another... but when all was bright, sunny and happy, they knew it would become fickle again. One of them would depart, and they would forget each other, only to be thrown together again amidst the next dark shadow. But who sought who?

She looked for him sometimes, when he vanished. But she forgot. It was easy to forget, and get busy with other mundane things. It was easier now than it was a few years back. She had the power to beckon him, to question him, to hold his hand, or let him hold hers. That is how it used to be. But now she had come too far, or so she thought. He had walked away voluntarily. She had let him go, voluntarily. But why didn't she look for him? She waited for the shadows. The shadows had always brought him back. But the shadows came and danced around her, changed the air and slowed her down. She walked on, tried not to succumb. She walked alone, without him. She fought the shadows, without him. She left the shadows behind, without him. And then she reached the bright, sunny and happy place, and as it would be, she forgot about him. Forgot that he hadn't been there this time.

She went so close to him sometimes, but he still wasn't there. She matched his smile with hers, but he had something more hidden behind those eyes. Was he teasing her? Refusing to acknowledge her? Why was he so evasive?

She stared at the trees outside her window - leafless branches perched on a pale white background, a clouded sky. The stillness smelled of his absence. She saw him everywhere, but he was nowhere. She wondered how long this separation would last. Could she live the rest of her life without him? Would she have to? What could she do if he chose to stay away?

But what if she was getting it all wrong? Maybe she was hiding from him. Maybe he couldn't find her. Maybe he was waiting for her too. Maybe she wasn't looking in the right places. Maybe she had to let herself go, stop thinking, stop searching, stop questioning...

She sat cross legged on the floor. A tea cup beside her. She imagined she could hear the sound of the tambura being played in a single pitch, repeatedly. It was a familiar sound. Perhaps, the most relaxing sound. She sipped her tea slowly. This time, it tasted of sweet hope. She sat up straight, closed her eyes, and began to sing...

Kannan mugam marandhu ponaal, indha kangal irandu payan unndo?

Yours "Find it. keep it."ly
Signing off...

Friday, January 28, 2011


So much has changed, without much changing. I have moved on, with parts of me still hanging behind. Here and there. Everywhere.

You never really leave a place. You never really leave people. You never really forget anything entirely. You have left chunks of yourself all over, at different cities you lived in, with different people, that it is sometimes impossible to just be at one place, with one person, even though you actually are. Of course it is all inside the head. But isn't that enough sometimes? Because memories are flawless. Because memories don't really change, even if the people in them do. Because they remain... and sometimes they're so lucid, so alive, that they seem more real than the real, truer than the truth. And that is what sometimes makes it impossible to listen to some song without thinking of a person...without being transported to another place and time.

I meant to write about so many things during my little Australian odyssey. Not the big life-changing happenings. The little things. The ones I will forget in a few months. Never got around to it. Even though I can remember vividly even now, the lone violin player I saw seated on a bench under a tree by the road while I was riding the if it were a scene out of a movie - the music in my ears substituting for the notes I couldn't hear come out of his violin. Watching smokers outside No.12 Creek street, a work culture that seemed so different from lab research! Almost like I could feel the pressure of the people bustling to work just by watching them. So much like Tokyo was, a few days later. The joy of cooking. Walking on Park road so many times with Niv, staring at the pricey restaurants we never ended up eating at. Weekly Soccer. Endless...

So today we toast to significant and not-so-significant memories. To finished chapters of never-ending stories. To the smiles and laughter that were, and will be. To new beginnings. To change. To dilemmas, ever so puzzling. To the unknown future, and the people who have walked and are walking with us towards it.

Chapters...that's what they are.

Yours "In another life, but not really" ly
Signing off...