Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh Hansini

You don’t know the movie it’s from. You don’t know who the actors are who are singing this song, but you do know the singer. Sometimes you felt this kind of voice should be made illegal, like a drug is in some places (where you are making a living now, for instance). But you love the song, the voice and the possible meaning, which your partner at work and a good friend, an artist on his off time, explains, because it’s a language he was born in. A kite is involved and a sweetheart, somewhere in the song. Seamlessly, many months later, as a segue from a familiar past, you meet him at a cafĂ© for lunch and you remember this song when he comes in bearing a gift for your birthday, which is in the same month as yours is. It all makes sense.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Putham pudhu kalai

It’s a morning song. Not any morning, it should have rained the whole night before and just stopped just before you woke up, and the crisp morning air should carry the fragrance of the rain from the night. It’s a morning with the promise of a beautiful day ahead. Because that’s how you remember hearing it, on the way to school which was a bit close to a music shop your cousin opened with his friends. He has a sense of music and shows you all the shining new equipment and the largest collection of records you’ve seen ever. You still have time for the first bell at school so you hang around and listen to some songs when he plays this latest song from a movie that’s running at a cinema near your house. You won’t see the movie for some reason, but the song will follow you wherever you went, carrying with it the early morning, rain-laden breeze.

Ruk jana nahin

It’s a Saturday in your sister’s house in town away from home where you’ve been living and working for a while now. You are used to it, the place, the people, the people at work, the work, the water which tastes seriously different from the one you grew up drinking. Saturday meant there would be a Hindi movie on the telly and you hope they’ll show something decent. You haven’t gone to see anyone, you look out the grilled window on the first floor and the streets are empty. There’s a water pump to the right where periodically there are fights among the people who come for it from the slum nearby. The programme on agriculture is over and your sister calls out to you to come watch the movie. There’s only her and another lady with her daughter. She knows the language so she can translate the tough bits. The movie starts with this song which you’ve heard as a kid on the radio, on the Phillips Major back in your home town. It takes you back to the dusty roads, the cool breezy mornings, the water, the house with the railway line way over in the back. It was one of those trains that you used to see that brought you here to this town.

Kanchi re

It’s a Sunday morning, and the school holidays have started. You are in your 4th standard or primary school years. Your school is a 10 minute walk, actually you can see it from the terrace of your house. Yours was the only house with a terrace in the neighbourhood. There was freedom in the air along with the fragrance of summer. The mornings especially were beautiful as were the evenings. Today was especially breezy and nice. Your cousins had come over for the weekend visit. They used to live next door before your family moved house and came here. All houses have stories and this one did too but you wouldn’t learn about it till you were all grown up and working, years later. But now it was a beautiful Sunday after school with your cousins. The cousin sister was more your age so you talk about this and that, telling her what a tough time awaits in the form of new mathematics when she would be promoted to the class you just got promoted from. You talk about the songs you’ve heard and like. She sings this song, which sounds very nice. You’ll hear it again on the radio later.

Khilte hai gul

You are in another town, on a job. Actually it’s your first decent job, and you are on training. You don’t know where the posting is going to be, it could be anywhere in the country. It’s a bit disconcerting as this is the first time you’ve left home not knowing when you’ll go back. You remember how all your family and friends came to the train station to send you off. But the fact that you’re staying with your relatives, your mother’s sister, a wonderful woman, and her nice family, softens the edge of being away from home a bit. Soon you learn the basics, how to get around, how to get to the hotel where the training is, which bus to take back etc. You meet some decent people at the training. Some of the managers are nice, some seem tough. As the session of a week comes to an end, you wait with bated breath as to where you’ll be posted. You wait for your name to be called. Heart pounding, anxious which strange city with no friends or familiar faces they’ll post you to, you wait. The big boss calls your name, and as you stand there with a strange mix of dread and expectation, he says you’ll be posted in your home town. You could have bought the whole world a beer, only you hadn’t started drinking, and you didn’t have enough money. There will be a few more days of training, and then you can go back to working. It was a Saturday, when there’ll be a Hindi movie on the local channel. TV started only at 6 pm and lasted till 10 pm. On a particular weekday they showed the latest songs. Sundays featured the regional movie. As you went back, with your heart brimming with happiness and relief, they had just started showing the movie from which featured this melodious song.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ilamai enum poongatru

You’ve come back earlier from college and changed into your casual clothes. You are standing outside the gate to people watch and wait for the milkman so you can have your tea which your mother or sister will make. It’s around 4 pm, and the street is not exactly teeming with people. There are kids going back from their schools, chattering, laughing, swinging their bags and lunch boxes. The college goers consider it beneath their dignity to carry lunch from home. Not cool to be seen with packed lunch as it won’t make the right impression on the girls you never had the courage to talk to. Or ever will. By the time your job and bank balance gave you the confidence, you were all grown up, married, in another country as were the girls. That’s how it went. Presently the milkman comes on his bicycle, carrying a huge aluminium can on the carrier at the back, with thick ropes holding it in place. In front, around the handle bars, there are smaller cans and measuring cans. He gets down, leans the cycle against him to balance it, opens the tap on the can and pours milk into the steel vessel you hold under it. The fresh, cold milk fills up to the brim, sending a cool wave through the palms of you hand, contrasting with the warmth from the street which is still absorbing the heat from the settling sun. Then as you look up to turn around to go back in, there’s the girl you see quite regularly. Pretty, tall for her age, and looks the quiet type. You wait till she passes you by, then walk in, holding the cool vessel. The radio plays this song which you’ll remember for a long time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kadavul oru naal

The man next to the room your dad was staying in played this song. You didn’t know what it meant. You were just about 4 or 5 years old. But you liked it for some reason. Thinking back, maybe he played it over weekends. He had a machine, which you later learnt was a gramaphone. It was fascinating that a spinning disc with a needle could produce songs. Who was singing? Where did they hide? When you were not being captivated by this machine, and this song in particular, you climb the short wall next to your dad’s room onto the tiled roof. You remember the mornings when your dad took you to the ‘hotel’ nearby for breakfast through a market selling fruits and vegetables. The whole restaurant smelled wonderful. It had a counter with the cashier sitting behind at a height. The counter had a red Coca Cola sign. You don’t remember what you ate, but you remember your father transferring coffee from tumbler to the ‘davara’ which is a flatter vessel to cool it down.