It was a chilling dream. A man goes to a book store to find out that his wife, who was dead 10 years ago is now the wife of a British millionaire. Spooling back the threads of past, fitting the jigsaw pieces one after one, he realises the death was a hoax and that he had been cheated. Filled with rage and vengeance, with his two children, he makes a flawless plan to murder her. Will he put her back into the coffin? Or will the smart ass wife outfox him again?
Before I could demystify this spine-chilling hair-raising breathtaking suspense thriller, I woke up to the sound of what sounded like a loud overstretched scream. My first thought was we were getting robbed, but then I realised we were poor so that was an impossibility. My mother must have forgot to put salt in dal or something!
I squinted my eyes and groaned like a cat, and got out of my bed. I chased that annoying sound and found my mother playing a Harmonium, her eyebrows knit together, her eyes half shut like Lord Budhdha’s and my neighbours peeking through their grilled windows, their faces a swirl of exasperation, perplexity and fear. My father was nowhere to be seen, but I was pretty sure he must have left the city by now. The birds who used to sit on our boundary wall had disappeared, the cats gone without leaving a trail.
There are two types of people in the world – who can sing, and who can’t. I’ve gone through hundreds of motivational stories where people work hard and get whatever they want in life, I’ve heard the stories of lame people climbing Mount Everest, I’ve read about people surviving cancer, but I’ve never known a man who couldn’t sing, but with strong determination and consistent practice, later went on to bag a Grammy. No, it doesn’t happen that way. Skills can be developed through practice, talent can’t. Drawing is a skill, so you can hone it with time and effort, but a person who makes birds fly away with her songs cannot become a Celine Dion. Well, unless you’re Salman Khan (because then you can do anything).
Somebody must have told my mother she sings very well, probably one of those dumb aunties in her Ladies Club, who wanted a lead singer for the Friday Keertans. This music fad has struck my colony like ebola, and every house has women buying musical instruments and getting a tutor so that they can form their band. When I came to know about this, I thought my mother was joking.
“Why? Don’t you think women can form a band? “She stared right into my eyes.
My face turned from extremely jolly to extremely concerned.
“Are you serious? “I asked, baffled. I imagined my fat neighbours standing around my mother, each with an instrument, staring at the audience that is composed entirely of men. The wind blows dramatically, flicking their wispy wild strands, whooshing through as if it was an episode of Dragon Ball Z. The first string is tugged and the small crowd on stage plunges into an ear defeaning Jagrata, killing everyone in its vicinity. I imagined cops and military gathered outside our street, helicopters hovering over the BSNL towers, specialists clad in space suits trying to enter the area 51. The media telecasting how a group of singers have managed to kill radio waves and bend the orbital paths of our neighbouring planets through their music.
“There. Look at my Harmonium. Cheeku’s mother’s got a guitar. We’ll rock. “My mother said.
“But you don’t even know anything about music!? “I said. I won’t mince my word, topper Ganesh knew more about music than my mother.
“What’s there to know? “She said, and added, “I’m getting a tutor, anyway. ”
And she did get one. The tutor, a short fat man, who looks like he’d teach anybody for a free cup of tea, has been visiting my house every week. He sings a verse and then asks my mother to repeat it. That’s when I call my friends and ask if they are free. I run away, and don’t stop before reaching the stadium.
Yesterday, she was singing Baby Doll on Harmonium. I so wanted to commit suicide there.
And what can one do? I tried once to tell her that she can’t sing.
“Maa, if Qadar Khan and you sat for a duel, Qadar Khan would win even before he starts to sing. “I said.
“You don’t know a thing about music, son. The teacher told my voice was improving. Let me sing to you the latest verse I learnt today morning. ”
And then she sang those verses and it was so bad I wished I had been born deaf. I couldn’t make her see that all her teacher wanted was a chair, free tea and regular inflow of money.
I was also offered the bait by a music teacher once.
“Your voice quality is good. If you practice daily and are coached by an experienced teacher you can easily win Indian Idol. “He said, “here’s my number. ”
Well, I once recorded myself singing Wo Lamhe. Last year, my mother used that recording in order to scare away my little cousin sister while she was being a noisy imp.
“Ziyan. Ziyan. “My cousin cheered and clapped and I felt happy and destroyed at the same time.
But at least I accepted that I can’t sing. Some people never do that. And then they’d sit near you and give periods to your ears.
One of my friend always sings wrong lyrics in a wrong tune, and so passionately that you’d wonder if he seriously believes he should try his luck at Indian Idol. He is pretty bad. He is so bad that he was singing Raju’s theme song from Chhota Bheem a few days ago and he ruined even that.
I don’t think my mother’s going to stop anytime soon. The activities in Ladies Club have only shot up.
I think I should start believing in God so that he could save us from Doomsday.