Friday, August 29, 2008

The music in me..

Was reading a lullaby post and became nostalgic...

I can't sing. And its a big deal for me. 
I grew up listening to my parents sing all the time. As a young boy, my father would run away from home to learn classical music from a muslim Ustad in the pre partitioned Punjab. My father is a very fine singer with a soft, melodious voice. 
My mother could sing in that sweet simple way that Tabu sings in that movie Virasat ! It used to embarrass me endlessly though she wasn't all that bad at all. She sincerely believed she had a voice and would diligently note down lyrics of Hindi songs in a worn out little diary. She wouldn't wait for an invitation to sing at weddings and parties while my father would act pricey as family and friends would indulge him no end before he obliged.

I so wanted that I could sing. I knew every song that my father hummed as he sat tinkering with anything that needed to be fixed in the house ! He was a closet mechanic for all kinds of electrical repairs and he would hum his music while he went about his favourite pass time. Ashok Kumar, Hemant Kumar, Manna De, Kishore Kumar, Mohd Rafi, Mukesh, Muzzarat Nazeer, Munni Begum, Farida Khannum, Iqbal Bano....

As a 7  year old, whenever I was alone - in the bathroom, the terrace, cycling home from school... I would sing his songs and pretend to be the greatest singer on earth :

Dheere Dheere, aa re badal...
Ye raat, ye chandni phir kahan
Jaag darde e ishq jaag
Bequrar karke hame yun na jaeeye
Bhala tha kitan apna bachpan
Aye maa, aye maa teri surat se alag, bhagwan ki surta kya hogi
Aanchal se kyun baandh liya, hai mujh pardesi ka pyaar
Jab deep jale Aana, jab shaam Dhale aana
Kitna dukh bhulaya tumne, pyare
Madhuban main radhika naachi re
Na tum hume jano..
Many still to add to the list

...lest I forget them, if that is possible.

I wasn't sure if I was good. I yearned for my father to tell me how I sang but he he never did. Often, he would make fun of my shy attempts to sing. I tried very much to improve, but there was never a word of encouragement. So I never sang in public. In most birthday parties of my childhood, there used to be this standard game of passing the parcel and my heart would jump up to my mouth if ever the parcel stopped at me. There was extreme probability that my chit would require me to sing a song and though I would have rehearsed ten different songs for every such occasion, I would never, never sing.

My youngest brother showed some of my father's talent and interest in singing and I took it upon myself to groom him ! It was funny ! I'd make him learn the lyrics of my father's songs which were rather difficult to sing anyway and every afternoon I'd make him rehearse and like any 'Ustaad Ji' I'd correct the alaap ! I feel so sorry for my brother now ! Though he dutifully sang and danced on call at every birthday party, I never heard him sing a song after he grew up into a boy and a man !! I must have scarred him for life.

When Ruhi was born, I would stay awake most nights for the first couple of years, cradling her in my arms and singing my father's songs to keep her calm and to keep myself awake. 
My favourites were " Dheere dheere aa re badal" and "Bhala tha kitna apna bachpan". Both these reminiscent of my childhood and my bittersweet relationship with my father. Since the songs are so ancient and my husband had never heard them before, I was spared being ticked on how badly I had twisted the tune, just in case he woke up to hear me bray. He is a fine singer himself !
Soon these became lullabys for Ruhi to sleep. Ruhi grew up and much to my husband's disappointment never showed any inclination to sing. 
My son came by three years ago and didn't ever need a lullaby to sleep. I'd put him in the crib and he'd shut eyes like clockwork. I do not remember singing to him at all, though once in a while I may have done it in an absent minded way. 
A few days ago, he was pretending to write a doctor's prescription as I was preparing for Ruhi to be go to bed (its still a ceremony!). He was talking in the background - he talks all the time, often to himself. Methodically, he cut the chatter and started singing :
 "dheere dheere aa re badal, dheere dheere. Raindrops, lollipops, O wott fun itood be"

I stood very still, completely afraid that he would stop if I gave him any attention. He did stop and moved on to the next ditty. I was exhilarated with emotion. He remembers the song from somewhere! My husband gave me a knowing smile. He knows how much these songs mean to me but more than that he is finally content that his son has his music (and mine) in him. 


themunchkinblog said...

My father is a great Mukesh fan and I've heard some of these songs fav one is "aasma pe hai khuda aur zameen pe hum "..I think its valid in these times too

Mampi said...

Oww, it was so touching to read about the younger child bring out that music that flows in his blood.
BTW even in the case of my daughter, tucking in bed is one long ceremony-lasting about 15 minutes.

sansmerci said...

man! i wish i cud write like u .. moving :) every time without fail!

Roop said...

hmm :) dilon nikaldi aa har avaaz.

Roop said...

something on u on me blog.

dipali said...

Such a lovely post. So many of those songs are great favourites. I too suffer from not being blessed with a tuneful voice and yet long to sing.
(I'd posted about that recently).
I'm so pleased that those songs seeped into your son's subconscious:)
Way to go, Gurpreet!