Musical memories

It doesn't take long for sepia-toned memories to come trickling down as soft tears on balmy evenings. Old photographs, a chance meeting or a favourite melody can strike the chord of a dear remembrance.

It is uncanny how associations with music heard in the past rest in the sub-conscious mind and stay in the heart for a lifetime. The lyrics may have been understood only now, but the meaning they gave to the memories remains fresh forever.

As a child, my earliest memory of music was waking up to MS Subbulakshmi's 'Suprabhatam'. Evenings were filled with the foot-tapping Rajasthani beats of the 'Managniyars' and with the quintessential Punjabi Asa Singh Mastana's 'Jugni'. Now when I revisit the collection, I hear it resonating with my father's patient warmth and it reminds me that parenting is not only about explaining why two and two make four. He took it upon himself to make us appreciate and understand the lyrics. No wonder then that I still prefer the meaning of the lyrics to the beats of a song.

The thumping beats of the Ghanaian Afro-pop band Osibisa or of the Disco Toppers Boney-M, still take me back to my many failed attempts at dance. As I hopped and skipped many a step in keeping pace with the guiding adult feet, I realised the importance of sound and rhythm in dance and in life; the struggle of balance between speed and caution. Too soon and too fast you trip; so enjoy and move with the beat, so what if you're out of step.

The music of my adolescence was well what should I say Michael Jackson's 'Bad' and Bon Jovi's 'It's my life'. Though, the ultimate in coolness was 'Ice ice Baby' of Vanilla Ice. As the cantonment club resonated with these songs, the adolescent mind fantasised gawky boys asking us to a dance. Glances and unspoken nuances come alive as we play those tracks in our mind. Moreover, the exchanging and hoarding of English audio cassettes was essential to maintaining the façade of coolness.

As the shadows become longer and I sit listening to Jagjit and Chitra Singh's haunting classic 'Uss orh se shuru karein phir se ye zindagi' I am reminded of how the music heard long ago can tug at the heartstrings in the present. It is intriguing how mind conjures up images and associations with songs heard many a moon back? Look into your music library to play some musical memories. Will you?


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