Crucial Craziness

Amma, I lose. You Win.


“Why do you want to learn, now?”

I couldn’t give a definitive reply. I sat giggling.

“So what do you want me to teach?”

“I don’t remember anything. I want to start over from the beginning.”

“Why did you stop and not continue?”

“Because I hated it to the core”

He raised his brows and gave a hopeless look.

My 25th Blog Post. After thinking long on what to write, finally I’ve decided to write on something that I’m very delighted about.

I was admitted to a music class when I was 7 years old and was forced to attend them regularly. Though no one wanted me to be a singer, they expected I would learn properly at least to sing decently. On the contrary, I hated going to class and singing. I don’t remember practicing even once at home. I tried giving all excuses possible so that someone would ask me not to go.

For few years, my mother left me in class as I was very young to cross the main road. She would pick me up an hour later. I had no other option that to go with her. Then, I was sent alone (‘chased away’ gives the real meaning)to the classes.

I went to a music teacher who lived in the first floor of an apartment. A group of 20 children would sing(scream) in high pitch that would make anyone hearing it get scared that their vocal cords would get worn out of ultra-high frequency vibration. The sound would be very scary indeed, mixed with the droning sound of tambura. The noise gives me a mental imagery of the Mahabharatha war scene-people running with swords and gathas screaming all the way. Thank goodness, the people in the next house did not file a PIL.

The sound would be heard few meters before, as you approach the class. I remember very well, whenever I wouldn’t hear that sound while climbing the stairs, I would run up anticipating a paper note in the door saying ‘Classes cancelled today’. Most of the time, I would be disappointment only to find that the teacher had paused to have water.

In classes ,I sang hopelessly-with no spirit. A college girl who came along with me to my classes always kept pestering asking doubts after singing each line, hence extending the one hour class beyond time. I had had the urge to dump cloth into her mouth. I hated her simply because she made me sit there for extra time.

Whenever I would forget (once in every two times) I would mock up wrong swaras and manage. And, no one could find it out too as we sang as a group.

More than my mother, my aunts were very keen that I should learn music properly. I have a cousin, an amazing singer(a pro!) whose mother is a musician herself. They pointed her out as an example and pushed me to learn. “Ava epdi paadra paaru! Neeyum try panna kandippa mudiyum”, [Look,how well she sings! You can too,if you try.] they would exclaim. But, I proved their strategy wrong. I was unbothered about who sang how.

Whenever I was asked to sing to someone, I would do a world-class fuss. The more they asked me to, the fussier I became. My mother has told me many times how embarrassed she has felt at those times. I was unmindful of it.

Once, two of my relatives visited home. (I still don’t know how they are related to me). Someone said I go for music classes. As expected, as everyone had been doing, they asked me to sing. I don’t know what stopped me from executing my ‘well-rehearsed-well-performed-scene-of-fuss’. I asked them what they want me to sing.

“What have you recently leant in class?”,one of them asked.

“Mohanam Varnam”

“Ok,sing that.”

I told them that I didn’t know it by heart and needed my textbook.

“What? What is the point in seeing the text and singing?You should never do that.Have you not memorized it?” –the other raised her voice.

“No”. I was scared.

“Ok, bring your book and sing”

I searched it as I always did, because I used to fling the book after returning from the class and everytime search it before the next. My weekly ritual that was.

I found it,went to them and started singing.

“G G R…S S R R G G R R….”

“Wait!What pitch are you singing in? Bad! This is very low .Higher!”

I almost had tears in my eyes. They screwed me until I completed the song, saying this and that and that and this for every line I sang.(Don’t ask me what ‘this’ and ‘that were. If I had comprehended, I would have written).A long session of lecture(verbal attack) followed. I almost started scolding the ‘don’t know who’ person who told them I could sing.

I already hated singing and that incident made the hatred intense. I pulled along for some months and one day, I started a serious fight with my mother saying I wouldn’t go to classes anymore. I put the blame on ‘heavy burden of studies’. After a week- long argument, she gave up and asked me to quit.

In few days, my music textbooks had mysteriously vanished and I realized it almost a year later, when I was asked to keep them for the Saraswati Pooja.

For years, all that I sang were 1)At the school prayer ,just because I was a part of the choir 2)Some random movie song while taking bath, until my sister would scream at me to stop wailing and come out soon.

I was very happy that I needn’t go to classes any longer. I was not a bit passionate about singing and I wasn’t a good singer either. Altogether, I lost nothing because I stopped singing.

NOW….

All of a sudden, I have started developing interest to sing. I have reasons for it. Few people I have known/got to know.

First-One of my college friends was sailing in the same boat as mine. She learnt music when she was young and later quit as she had to concentrate on studies.(But, not out of irritation as I did).When at college, she started going for classes again, passed theory exams and also started learning to play the guitar.

Second- my cousin who is a year younger to me. Though she’s very busy with her college, she has been able to find time for her passion, music. She could get a teacher arranged who could come to her house after  9PM and take classes. She has also learnt to play the keyboard herself, very beautifully.

Third- Another cousin of mine, a good singer who never learnt formal singing, but knows to analyze ragas and create medleys. When asked how, he said that he simply loved music.

Fourth- One of my colleagues who started learning to play the keyboard before few years, who has traveled from Bangalore to Chennai just because he doesn’t want to miss classes.

Looking at all these people, I have realized the stupidity on my part. After an 8 year long break, I’ve started learning music again, afresh.

“Note it down, one day you are definitely going to regret about quitting singing .When you grow older, You’ll surely go to classes again. Take it from me.” my mother said years back when I fought with her that I can’t stand music classes anymore.

I had challenged her that that would be the last thing I would ever do.

Now, I realize. My mother was right. What she said has happened.

Amma, I lose. You Win.

PS: Amma in tamil universally means Mother. It doesn’t refer to a ‘heavily’ controversial person.Just trying to be safe.

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