Most daughters would tell you that their father’s have had a profound influence on them. I would reiterate the same; my father has indeed had a deep influence on me. But here I’m talking more about the influence that my father’s voice has had on me. Throughout my growing years whenever I would see large cut outs of the Fox terrier, Nipper listening attentively to the gramophone and listening to ‘His Masters Voice’ it always struck a chord in me somewhere and the little girl in me wondered if I would have someone to listen to as I grew up.
I’ve always had a great affinity with chants and the sounds of things musical. My grandfather was a Sanskrit scholar and I was told later in life that I was given my name by my grandfather who had observed that I would listen with rapt attention to the Sansckrit Shlokas he recited, even as a baby. My home, all through my years of growing was like an exciting orchestra. Set amidst the beautiful Patkai ranges, our home resounded with the chirp of birds along with the chimes of Hindustani Classical music. My father was a tremendous table player, but also played many other instruments which he had mostly learnt to play by himself. Though his interest was mostly in instrumental music, he would occasionally hum a song or two in his beautiful and deep baritone. During those years I was training in Indian classical dance and it was my father who taught me to lisen..listen to the discordant note in any music and never to miss a beat.
My father’s love for music was passed on to me very silently and unknowingly, in the musical concerts he managed to organize almost single handedly and bring a small township in the North Eastern India into the focus of classical music. It was no mean achievement and during this course I had the privilege of listening to some of the best in the profession. It taught me that love of music is not restricted to singing or playing or even listening. That, is also music which is propagated and loved for beyond one’s own recognition or individual interest, for the love of the art itself.
There is one particular event that comes to my mind whenever I remember my father’s music. True to the oil town culture, there were plenty of occasions for musical soirees where some sat with a guitar, some with a piano, other’s showcased their vocals, etc. On one such particular night, when the winds were beautiful and receptive to music and it’s likes..after a few Western Classical numbers were sung on stage, my father was invited to grace the stage. I wondered what he would do, since he wasn’t really a singer. I closed my eyes in trepidation of what would happen. Amidst the pregnant silence rose, a beautiful poignant and grave voice..deep in its resonance and eerie in its purity. In an extremely anglicized culture, where men wouldn’t be seen without their tailcoats, my father sang a shloka. For about 2-3 minutes, there was not a single sound among the spectators! And then there was a thunderous applause for the sheer beauty and simplicity of what had been sung. It is my belief that hardly a handful of people would have understood what it meant, but that was the ‘Sound of music’..nothing else really mattered. That day I learnt my first and most lasting lesson in music, when sung from the soul, music becomes a prayer and that music is more than mere sound..it is the sound of passion.
Over the years, whenever my father performed the Durga puja rituals, where hymns are sung out in Sanskrit to the Goddess I would creep up and listen. Whenever he has sung on stage or performed on the Tabla, I have not missed a single note. In all the instruments that he played, some of which he made, tuned and gave different dimensions to, I saw, felt and heard with the soul. Because, music as he taught me was devotion, purity of soul and a fine blend of aesthetics that needs cultivation and developing an ear for.
Over a period of time and all through life, my father taught me music of every kind. When the birds came, he taught me to listen to their chirp and understand that theirs is always the first right, when it rained he taught me to find music in its pitter patter, when life was dull, he taught me to find music in that. With this ‘Master’s voice’ beside me and my own inclination I believe today that music is the only passion that touches man with a belief of reality and mysticism born of dreams.
( Image courtesy Google)