Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reviving the Melody

I found my diary while I was cleaning my cabinets after a busy festival season. That’s my Music Diary I exclaimed in excitement! I was maintaining this diary for an easy reference which contained from the most basic Sa Re Ga Ma to the advance ragas like Bahar, Malkauns all in one place. I was overwhelmed. My eyes moist while looking at it.
Music, ah! Music, that used to be my life. I started learning classical music from the age 7 or 8 I guess until I turned 19. After my regular school hours I would just rush though my homework so that I can sit in front of my harmonium and play music to the contentment of my heart. It was never enough though! I never got tired of it. In Indian Classical music, some of the ragas have their exact particular timings for singing . One raga, Bhairvi if I recall it correctly, should be practiced before dawn in the morning. I remember waking up even as a small girl when everybody was still nicely tucked under their blanket to practice that raga.
At my school or college, I would be asked to sing extempore and I would readily get on the stage and sing without any hesitation and without getting uncomfortable and come back with a huge round of applause. That, however, I never cared for, coz even if I didn’t get that I would still sing as that’s what I loved doing!!
Its been more than 10 years now since my fingers last coaxed a melody from my Harmonium keys or played through the strings of Tanpura (the Indian Classical Instruments). As I started growing older the pressure of studies became heavier. The worst thing about growing up is that we tend to deemphasize what we love doing the most or ignore what happens to be our strengths. We were living in a small town then, and if I didn’t get good grades the chances of getting admission into one of those esteemed institution in a big city would be lost in the thin air. I started spending less time with my music and started getting diverted towards the areas which were not my strengths. “Music should be your leisure time activity, it should not fill out the most of your time as you’ll land yourself nowhere with music” I was told.
At the younger age the psyche of our peers play a major role in affecting our thinking pattern too. I had to go out and prove myself so concentrated more toward my studies and other activities and paid less attention to music that used to be my life. Gradually it reached a point when I never had time to practice music. I still loved it and would sing it pretty often but the dedication and sincerity with which I used to worship it was not there anymore. Once, I remember, at a college function my music teacher told me: “ you sing pretty well” I looked at him in surprise thinking was it a discovery for him? I was known for my singing. It was like a second nature to me. Then I realized that something is changing now.
Life moved on . Marriage , kids career everything became a priority but as time passed by, I started to miss that again. I visited my home last time and saw my Harmonium and Tanpura and got very emotional to see that. I was tempted to play it but was not sure if I remembered everything correctly. I was concerned if my fingers would still run so smoothly and fluidly as it did years ago. That was my pride and I just wanted to treasure it through the rest of my life.
I was waiting for everybody to go back to bed and then I pulled my Harmonium out. Dusted it off and started touching each and every note of it and with each key I touched, it seemed like I am going back into past one year at a time. There was a lot of tuning to do as it’s been so many years now. My mom did try to keep it in good shape though. I walked quietly and secretly to my old bookshelf where I had kept my music diary. I closed the door behind me so that nobody can hear me play that. I sat with it and first savored all the moments gone by and then suddenly something happened. I surprised myself! My fingers were moving effortlessly across the keys and I was playing the raga I loved most. However, while I tried to do the aalap i figured that i was somehow missing the deft and dexterity with which i did that before..........
I loved the movement of my fingers again. I did have some difficulty in catching up with my sargam and taal and I still have a lot of catching up to do. Dadra Thumri require lot of practice but I was still overwhelmed.
Today I have the piano right in front of me and I am playing again. Now this is more a source of great relaxation after a stressful day.
It does make me sad that I couldn't make a career out of it but at least I am complacent about the fact that all these years of devotion and practice didn’t go wasted after all…………….