music

Music in my neighbor’s backyard

I’ve been trying to write lately but my thoughts wander. It’s been about changes in life, embracing growing up, growing old and of noticing changes that makes you realize that it’s not so scary growing old after all. There will always be people who, when you meet, talk about the same reservations that you have about this trickery of growing old, and so all of a sudden, you’re not alone. There’s always nostalgia, fatigue and the sharply advancing generation around you that makes you realize that late twenties might not be the ‘sought after’ age to be–that’s only till twenty-three. I’ve been listening to this live gig from my room at this hour from our neighbor’s backyard. It’s an intimate gathering—from the noise of it, a bunch of friends, laughter, guitar and songs. It’s almost Spring—where your rooms are cold enough at night to keep the fans turned off, but windows opened, so I can listen to the chatter and every stroke of the pick on guitar. From the looks of it, the company is my age—they have played Wo Lamhay, Tum he tou ho, Wake me up when September ends, The Fray. I don’t know why but it makes me feel connected. Millennials, the depressed generation, the pioneers of social media, generation with the highest suicide rate—somehow we find the reason to connect. The boy who sings is a little rough with his voice but he plays the instrument alright. He plays Wo Lamhay while I carry out ablution, plays Tum he tou ho, while I pray and think about a thousand things unconsciously that the song reminds me of. I’ve started reading W.B Yeats today and was planning to finish a part of the book but the music from my window asks me to write—about unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, almost-happiness, driving at night without the music on, unresolved resolutions, lists on my phone and in my notebook and about people close to my heart; in books, in pictures and in real life.

Two of the boys sing Atif’s Ye Meri Kahani and I remember the first the time I heard the song. I still think about the little optimistic girl I used to be. It’s like a reel unraveling. I wonder how it would be moments before you’re going to die. Are there going to be flashbacks? Of good moments and the worse? Or is it going to be all blank? No memories retained, nothing lost?

It has started to rain. Boys have stopped playing. Winter is over. I do not await the summer.

The Homely Feeling

Hum bhool gae har baat magar tera piyar nahi bhoolay

Kia kia hua dil ke sath, magar tera piyar nahi bhoolay

We forgot everything but we did not forget your love/ whatever happened to the heart but did not forget your love

I stand in the light bluish marbled floor lounge, a seven year old, scowling at the cassette playing Lata on the tape. It’s a cold Sunday morning, the light entering through the long horizontal windows that run along the upper edge of the wall with the entrance door, throwing squares of clean sunlight in the living room which is the center of activity on most weekend days. The cassettes play Lata (or her sister, you can never tell who), Rafi and Mehdi Hasan alternating between the three every weekend—their songs audible in all rooms while my father polishes his shoes for the week and mother makes breakfast and then lunch. Often my father sings along with the singer just to tease us, or maybe not, but we get annoyed by the two singers now singing in chorus, one of the them slightly offbeat. All we want to do is, turn on the TV on a Sunday and watch it for the rest of the day. But we wait till the shoes are polished and other weekly house chores done; till the cassette (or one of its sides) has ended, and someone from the siblings stealthily switches it off and turns on the TV instead.

I stand in the marbled floor lounge, eight years old, nine years old, ten years old, listening to Baharo Phool Barsao, Jo Waada Kia Wo Nibhana Paray Ga, Choudhween Ka Chaand ho, until I can’t remember when the songs stopped playing on Sundays, when I started singing along with Rafi, when I finally understood meaning of lyrics or played one of those songs when I was alone and feeling low; but years later when I come across an old song somewhere from those cassettes, in the car, at a dhaaba or a fancy desi restaurant, I am transported back to our old house—bare feet on the cold marbled floor with indistinct noise of the kitchen’s exhaust fan whirring and my father’s clear strokes of brush on his shoes—I think about how home is sometimes a feeling, a nostalgia, an unconscious learning of being at ease with your past.

 

Imaginary Towns

It’s self-assuring to think in terms of towns.

Towns of happiness and towns of sadness. Towns where people meet and greet and depart and retreat. Towns where summers come for a month or two and the wind blows bringing winters and snow. Towns where people communicate in terms of books they’ve read—the favorite ones, the depressing ones, the ones made that them hold on to people on the verge of losing, and those that made them find themselves. Towns where music plays as a warning in the streets, those slow numbers late in the evening into early hours of the morning.
Can’t we segregate towns for people who love the colors of fall, or early winds of December, and for people who love a sunset at five, an early cold night? Where it rains in the afternoons, trees dancing to the thundering tunes.

Like towns by the sea, and those by the lake and mountains, where people come to live in expectation of a uniform weather, can’t we have towns where grief is momentary, glee a lasting season?

Flight

Violins.
A play in reversal.
The last tea.
Sunshine dripping through the windows.
Clinking of spoons and tea cups.
Violins.
Jacket hugging the chair–picked up,
Footsteps on the wooden floor.
Footsteps following the footsteps.
Violins.
Last day, last night.
Last dance in a quick time lapse,
Violins – bringing back the last 10 years.
Dropped tea cups
Screams and cries
on the thirtieth floor
at 12 am,
blinded by the lights of the skyline.
Violins, hugs and sobs.

Violins

embraces, trembling waves, goodbyes.
Violins
Flights late at night.
Violins,
Farewells,
and never ending sighs.

Violins

Footsteps in another land.

Violins
Nostalgia, pain and frights.

Wait (Boston)

It had been an hour.

In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun…

The rain continued. Only it looked more like continuous showers than unpredicted rain. The street had been drenched, the puddles had formed already. Only the water in those puddles was clear as crystal.

His eyes were fixed right in front of his car—on a newly formed puddle of water. The puddle kept receiving more rain. The drops created those ripples that he had always enjoyed watching as a child. The ripple would spread wider and wider, until another drop fell at exactly the same place and the ripple would start all over again. It was like the ticking of time—only time would fly a little slower than the falling drops of rain. This wasn’t like back home.

You don’t know me, you don’t even care, oh yeah, she said…

He turned on the car’s wipers for a hundredth time when the visibility became zero again. He had to wait. He told himself. For the last time, before he left. The decision had already been made. He did not know whether it was only him who had made the decision. Yet he wished, hoped that it could change. Only one sincere request, one wishful phrase was needed to make him stay. After all this time.

Essential yet appealed, carry all your thoughts across
An open field,
When flowers gaze at you… they’re not the only ones who cry
When they see you

He almost heard the footsteps reaching, splashing through the rain, running towards the direction of his car. It was incredible that he could hear, despite the loud melancholy music. He lunged forward, almost opening the door of his car.

But he had been dreaming—in the daylight. It was not his fault. He had hardly slept for the past 48 hours. And in his defence, it was not ‘daylight’ as one would call. 3 pm as it may be, but it was as dark as a 6 o’ clock winter evening in London.

He wished the door of the front yard would open now. It had been too much to take. It could not wait much longer.

But he didn’t dare go towards the door himself. That required killing his ego for a thousandth time. He would not be able to face those eyes if he knocked the door. He would have to kill himself for the rest of his life. But more than that, those eyes would never forgive him for it. He had not forgotten the look in those eyes the last time he had tried to approach.

So he waited.

I think I’ll go to Boston…
I think I’ll start a new life,
I think I’ll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I’ll get out of California, I’m tired of the weather,
I think I’ll get a lover and fly’m out to Spain…

Why was there so much redundancy in his life? He thought as the song kept playing in the background. It had been on repeat since his two hour long drive from college.

Perhaps it talked about him. It matched so much. And yet it was so different from his own situation. He tried to keep quiet and concentrated on the rhythm of the piano. He needed peace within himself.

I think that I’m just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind…
I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset,
I hear it’s nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice… oh yeah

The rain continued with occasional thunder. The ripples still formed. The piano kept playing. The puddles were larger than ever. The water seeped through his window and fell on his jacket. Summers had never been so cruel.

 

Until he saw the door of the front yard, at his far right side open.

 

(Feb 26, 2014)

Music is?

Music is sweet. It lets you listen to magic in the chirpings of birds, that would otherwise have been rhyme-less tweets.

Music is painful. It makes you go back to those old moments when that music played and the moment took place.

No matter how happy the moment was, it makes you cry because it happened and cannot be brought back.
And it would make you cry for the excruciating moments that took place when that music played.

And well, you can’t do anything about it.

If only, you could erase those memories?

And now, whenever, wherever, that music would play, it would bring back all those memories whether they brought joy or made you cry, they would send you back in the sands of time.

I said music was painful.

Because it brings the state of ecstasy, any level lower than that-a state understated and it would pierce your heart. Because it’s easier to glide a step further, but the fall is what is most agonizing.

 

You say music is inspiring.

Yes, it’s one of the perceptions. A way of looking at things.

But I’d rather say it’s a clue to find what you might have lost. Or a guide to help you get to destiny.

Not an end in itself but a means to an end.

I found nature more appalling-with music. Music became a complimentary element, adding tunes to the moods of life, making me appreciate the symphony that it made.
Thus music wasn’t a destiny, nor was nature, rather it established a staircase to the road towards an initially unknown end that finally became the destiny.

In the tunes of nature, the rhythm of the drops of rain, the late night chirping sounds of crickets, the harp that was played somewhere far away that made me question the existence of such magic; I found something I had lost while I wandered.

I found Him.
I found God.

They tell me I might be committing a huge mistake. Something that is prohibited can’t help you find your destiny.

I feel guilty, and so even though I could have been happy, my heart is never content.

I’d told you, music was painful.

 

Epilogue–

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ―Bob Marley