The Leader of the Band

I often forget what my parents give me, just by their very presence, just by living their lives the way they do. And while I often thank ma for her never say die spirit and her unconscious living of her life as a feminist, I don’t say thank you to my dad often enough.
I grew up slamming doors at and with dad. I inherited his volatile temper, his love for music, plants, decor, politics, ability to forgive fast, love of socialising, thinning hair, and hearty laugh.
Today I carried his luggage out to the cab and he patted me on the head with a – I have a few more years to go before you have to do that, sweetheart – bringing tears to my eyes.
And this is what he left me with this afternoon – a song from his youth, introduced to my brother and me, over WhatsApp (something we introduced him to!), a day ago.
The give and take is endless, but parents always give more than they receive. I didn’t pay enough attention to the song when he played it for me, and now as I sit in my empty living room and play it over and over again, I am reminded anew that you’re never too old to be introduced to something by your parents. And it’s never too late to be grateful for them.
Enjoy the song – and you can thank him, not me. Funnily, he was reminded of his dad, the thatha I never knew, when he sat there listening to it.

// The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band. //

Memories

This post from last year popped up on my timeline and I wanted to share it with you. Missing the Delhi winter and the rounds of parties that would have begun. Sigh.
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Growing up in Munnar, one of our biggest pleasures and privileges was watching our parents get ready to head out to a dinner party. Ma would be struggling to run a comb through her mass of waist length hair. My handsome dad would be tuning his guitar, without which he wasn’t allowed to walk into a party. I’d be strutting around in Ma’s vertiginous stilettos. The mad sibling would be watching my dad strum and sing Wonderful Tonight, smiling at ma.
My brother and I truly believed he’d written the song for her and would fight you to death if you disagreed.
She’d catch his eye in the mirror and blush. And then I’d regretfully give her back her heels and watch her slip her beautiful feet into them, her slender neck barely able to hold up that massive bun. A spritz of Paloma Picasso and they’d kiss us and leave in a cloud of perfume and romance.
Fast forward 30 years and I find that I’m unable to dress for a party unless there is music playing. I have an iPod set up for it since I don’t have my own troubadour. The Bean is prancing around in my heels and threatening to break her neck. The Brat is lying in my bed and looking at me like I’m the most beautiful woman on earth. Just as I looked at Ma in her black slim jeans and white swing top.

And this is what we have kids for – for those few moments when we’re perfect in someone’s eyes. And this is what childhood memories are made up of – perfume, music, magic and a nip of winter chill.

Senti bhi hoon, aur mental bhi

Something utterly adorable about your parents sending you rather drunken watsapp messages from their college reunion.

And something akin to maternal pride when one of them receives an award for being a distinguished alumni.

I believe this is what they call the circle of life.

#ForeverYoung

The fledgling

Academic question. Not at all personal. *koff koff*
In fact, I’m asking for a friend.
At which point does one cut the cord and stop missing one’s parents?

Years ago I would sob every time I left for college and my parents spoke to one of my professors about it. He was very nice about it and told them an anecdote about how the eagle keeps removing the feathers it lines its nest with, until the nest becomes too uncomfortable for the fledgling to stay.
My parents are failures clearly, because it’s been twenty years and they’ve only made the bloody nest more comfortable. Of course it is all their fault – raising their child to be dependent and dysfunctional when she is not within an 800 km range of them.

I have a couple of plans in mind now

  1. Act increasingly nasty when I next see my parents, forcing them to fight with me, vitiate the environment progressively so that by the end we’re all happy to see the back of each other.
  2. Be nasty to my kids starting today so that they hate me. This nips the issue in the bud and they don’t end up being miserable babies at the grand old age of 37. This whole business of being a good parent is overrated and misunderstood. You must raise them to hate you so that they don’t miss you too much.

If you have other ways to handle this mess, please give your solutions in the comments box. The winning comment will get – oh, I don’t know. Tear-free evenings?

Sing it, sistah

I’ve blogged about bad boys before. A friend’s comment on Facebook reminded me of them again. Girls only fall for the bad boys, she said rather regretfully.

They do. The first bad boy I fell for was my dad. Curly haired, leather jacket wearing, chain smoking, guitar playing, voice of an angel, vicious temper, impulsive, passionate, quick smile, wicked sense of humour, he was the original biker doing 20-day bike trips. What’s not to love?

I fell for bad boys after my dad too, although as I’ve mentioned before, I married the OA, the quintessential dependable guy who waits in the wings until you break your heart over one of them and then sweeps in, picks up the pieces and walks into the sunset with you in his arms. I married him because he probably reminded me of the gentle, steady man who raised me, my maternal grandpa. My rock.

Anyway, the reason girls fall for bad boys, is because they’re the king of the grand gesture. Banging at your hostel gate at midnight on your birthday, with a cake (yes, that’s my dad again), writing you songs (an ex), choosing to spend their last rupee calling you instead of buying toothpaste (an ex again) and so on.

I saw this advertisement today and it reminded me of my parents. You know those cute little naked babies that feature in the Love is… cartoon strip?

My dad used to make them up for my mum, sketch them and create one specially for her, every couple of weeks, depending on what the current ‘affair’ was. She showed them to me years ago and I don’t know if she still has them. She’d collected them all carefully of course. The art work was good and the idea and his sense of humour shone through. They were a grand gesture in those days. And it worked. He swept her off her feet. He still does the most utterly cute things for her and it doesn’t matter that my brother and I will never be in the inner circle. There’s enough warmth from that fire for the two of us to stand by the side and warm our hands.

Here is the advertisement – watch it to know what caught my attention. It is particularly dear because of the soundtrack. “I can’t help falling in love.” I have a nice clear voice (even if it doesn’t bring in awards at the moment!) and Dad has an awesome Neil Diamond voice. We sing this song very well together and the Bean has begun to sing with him. It’s the cutest sight – She sings Summer Wine with him.

By the by, the other day we were listening to Adele singing Lovesong. I was on the first floor singing softly along with it. The OA was on the ground floor getting the kids to do their homework or something. He shut off the music and I just adjusted my volume to make up for it, singing loud and clear. And the Bean came running to the foot of the stairs – “Is that mama or Adele?”, she said.

The acoustics were flattering I guess, because for once I let my voice soar, and sang with all my heart. And felt a pang for the talent I’ve let lie by the wayside. The blog I’ve abandoned. The career I don’t have. The home I’ve left and come away. I put all the pain and hunger into my voice and it showed. I sang while the OA and the kids stood at the foot of the stairs and listened to my voice in the stairwell.

When it was over, the OA looked up and said mildly – Why are we wasting your voice? Why haven’t you gone back to training it?

I don’t know. I think I’m incapable of devoting my energy to more than one thing at a time and for the last ten years it has been my kids. I hummed lullabies softly, intent on lulling them to sleep, not impressing them.

Years ago while singing the Brat (who only spoke hindi in those days) said – Mama, tum kitna ganda gaati ho. Mat gao.

We laughed it off, but I think I slowly stopped thinking of my voice as special. I was a mama who happened to have a voice and it didn’t matter.

Over the last month or two, as I sit here in a strange country, missing everything that was dear, the house to myself, I sing loud and clear and I enjoy my voice. For the first time in my life, I sing for myself, not for my parents, my music teacher, my friends, an audience. No, just for myself, and I love it. I take pleasure in it and I feel my lungs expand and my range grow.

Someday I will go back to training. For now, I’m back, baby.

Err.. just my voice. Not necessarily back to blogging. Just know that I think of you guys and want to blog, but it’s too raw and too harsh and I don’t want them trolls coming back!