Short Story: Narrating Love and Humour
AUTHOR : NAVAL LANGA
It was the days of my early youth. In the coterie of the friends I belonged, there were boys who were players of one or another musical instrument. They knew playing violin, drums or harmonium. Most of these instrument-players were level-headed and sane persons. And the rest were poets.
I was the only person who belonged to neither of the sub-sections. Sometimes I thought that I was an old truck standing among a pool of newly designed cars. I felt myself as an odd man among them. Hence I wanted to be like them. In doing so I had one genuine reason : I did not want to be a poet.
In fact I feared that were I started writing poems, like my some of the fashionable friends, my family members would not bear me even for a month. They would send me to an asylum. Previously they had done so in the case of my ‘poet’ uncle; after suffering from his poems for a period of six months. Initially they had tried certain mind-pacifying medicines, hoping for the revival of his sanity.
Ultimately when my uncle had started writing long lyrics on my maternal aunt’s legs and the beauty of her breasts, they had transported him--first to a mental hospital, and finally to an asylum. So to be honest, I feared to be a poet. I feared to mortgage my entire life to an asylum.
Driven by the innocent desire of becoming equal among other friends, and not allowing them to call me a man of ‘no interest’, I had decided to learn playing some musical instrument. The musical instruments are non-violent articles; and I did not know anyone being sent to hospital for loving the music.
It was the time when I had seen a Hindi film Mugal-E-Azam for the first time. And I was arrested by the sitar paying by its musician Naushad,mohe panaghat pe nandlal chhed gayo and et cetera.
So without thinking about left side or right side, I got enrolled in a music school where sitar was being taught from the first string. But within few days I found out more than a dozen reasons to abandon my dream of being a sitar player.
The first and foremost reason was my teacher himself. I don’t remember his real name but he was well-known as ‘dhoti-kurta-roomalsir’. The sole reason for his being nicknamed thus was that he wore dhoti and kurta and kept a handkerchief in his hand, just to wipe the saliva running out from his mouth. He was a chain pan-chewer. I had no reason to object to his habit of pan-chewing until he ordered me to buy a couplet of pans everyday before entering the classroom.
Obviously the reason for his ordering thus to me was not a musical one. It was purely an economical. His income from the music-teaching activities was even less than his younger brother’s. His younger brother was a sweeper in Municipal Corporation. I did not object to his pan project, the project surviving on his students. But then came the phase of real hardships. He taught me the surs on the strings by putting the fingers of left hand on the frets (the pardas) ofsitar. These frets are made from pitiless metal roads and bent in a manner that they look like fishing hooks. I was hooked in those frets for a week.
Along with keeping the left hand fingers in that way, I was required to vibrate the hard metal-strings with a wire-nail worn on the first finger of right hand. That everything was unmusically painful for me. But I remember Pandit Ravi Shanker and carried on. I had heard that the music descends upon a person only after he or she suffers much. I continued to suffer. There was suffering everywhere. My fingers of both the hands ached beyond bearable limit.
I told about every difficulties, to my already musician friends. They advised me to carry on the suffering if I wanted to become something worthwhile. But the sufferings prevailed over the hopes of future. I decided to quit.
On the day I was to abandon the plan of being a musician, a sitar maestro, there occurred an accident, rather two accidents. My music teacher, wiping out his out-pouring red saliva, told me to go a little bit downward. By downward he meat in the down surs, like Ga, Re, Sa and not stick to Ma and Pa only. On the very moment I had decided to leave the music lessons. Forever.
But after a few minutes a good-looking, softly speaking, young woman of my age entered the class;she looked like a cine star. And the whole music class became a really musical one. Until then the environment was gender biased, too: it was ‘all male’ class. Now there in our school, the music became more musical; and no one thought about a day’s absence, even though it was rainy season. I, too, folded my plan to retire from the world of music.
Within short spell of twenty-four hours, all the pains from my fingers disappeared. To be very frank I would say that the music was becoming a neighbor in my life. She used to sit besides me. I forgot all the pains. You know, the beautiful persons are always the messengers of prosperity. Remember how the ancient City of Troy had prospered after the beautiful Helen had entered its gate.
I liked the soft company of that woman. Perhaps she too liked mine. Otherwise why she would have been offering me a lift on her scooter? The scooter was a sign of prosperity in those days. I was swimming through the double-edged prosperity. Happy were the days. But the tower of my rapture was to crumble soon. It crumbled, too.
I was totally unaware that the same ‘good looking’ woman was to leave the music class within a month; I didn’t know that the same ‘softly speaking lady’ was to become ‘a woman of hard words’ for me. I had no idea that music was to become the last thing in my life.
At that time I had no slightest idea about the fact that the same lady was going to accompany me for the rest of my life. Since years she has accompanied me: she lives in my city; she lives in my lane; she lives in my house; and she shares bed with me. In addition to that, we jointly own three grown-up children, too.