Friday, March 9, 2012

That 5 Letter Word

My father's greatest message to me was to never lose touch with music in my life. He was a living and practising example of the power of music. Not only would he whistle and hum and sing to himself all the time but he would allow himself to be emotionally swept away by an evocative song or tune. Tears would stream down his face when he heard a beautiful old Telugu song ('Andenaa' from the film 'Pooja Phalam' Eyes dancing, he would sing along with glee to Harry Belafonte's 'Man Piaba'. How many of us allow ourselves to be absolutely stripped and vulnerable before a piece of music? Why, I feel embarrassed at even my mother catching my involuntary goosebumps when I hear some unknown singer with a beautiful voice hit the high C's with perfection. Music is the utmost revealer, I feel. The litmus test to prove the existence of the human soul. Good music catches us unawares, filters through our skin to where the real stuff is and when we are open and receptive, that's when it goes beyond note meeting ear. It's where "soul meets body"(see! I managed to quote the Deathcab for Cutie song)

Music did help in bonding my father and I. We spent years scouring the internet (his room is beside the corner where my computer is) for his extremely eclectic and rare list of songs ranging from Frankie Laine to Lata Mangeshkar. And nothing too popular, mind you! Most of my father's favourites were songs from the 40's and 50's, once heard on the radio when he had been a teenager, much remembered and to my surprise, still evergreen. I'd read the songs I'd find on YouTube or on sites and he would label them "Bore" or "Don't want" until I'd chance upon the rare gem he had been seeking for 60 years "That's the one!". Finding the song would be a true Eureka! moment. Of course, there was the possibility that the song would be right but the version would be wrong, oh so wrong. Like when I found Harry Belafonte's 'The Drummer and Cook'. Nope, my father wanted the Cockney version. Thank you, YouTube.

Listening to his songs after his passing has been extremely painful-not to hear his voice singing along with mine, not to hear his accurate lyrics-spouting (his memory was the ultimate encyclopaedia). But listening has been necessary. Music lays it all bare, lays you bare and then it lifts you up. It goes beyond words and sounds and cells and fibre. It goes beyond this world, beyond the invisible curtain that separates those who are living from those who have lived. Perhaps celestial music is different from the earthly kind-a living memory of those you love that you can access again and again. More alive than a photograph. More metaphysical than a video or a letter. But till we finally hear the music of angels, of the divine, we can be content with the one created on this planet, the one that reminds us of those we love and a way for them to remind us that we are loved.

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