It all started when I stumbled across the INKtalks video by Usha Uthup in INKtalks 2013. The waves of memories flowed into my mind with music as background. It took me back to an era when I was learning music. This post is mostly embedded in music, the links of which I have given at the end.
Usha Uthup is famous in Kerala for her western style of singing from the early days. She talks of how music has no barrier like age, gender, sex, languages, time etc. She reminded me then of my mother, whose name is also coincidentally Usha. She was my unofficial music teacher. Every evening, she used to sing bhajans in front of photos of God, and I took actively took part in it. I was too young to ask questions, and went along with the flow of music at home. She inspired me to sing along, searched and found music teachers for me, enrolled me, and wished sincerely that I would attain great heights in the music field. But with adolescence, shyness creeped in me and I never got to stage. Her wish of hearing me sing music remains unfulfilled. Every Navratri, we would sing special songs for bhajans which were meant to be sung only on those days. Recently, I captured one of those sessions in my smartphone, unknown to her.
The first teacher I could remember was Dr. S. Bhagyalakshmi in Thiruvananthapuram, though according to mother, there was some other teachers too before her, whom I do not remember now. (She had written some music books too, daughter in law was a violinist.) We had neighbours who became family friends afterwards. Their daughter and my sister were same age friends and studied in same school and we together went to music classes, walking hand in hand. I was like the shared younger sister for both of them. Time has drifted away, and she went on to learn professional music though she could not make it a career. Recently in Dubai, she gave a performance in a local family club.
After we shifted homes, I joined Noopura, academy of dance and music, which was famous in the district for nurturing dancers and musicians. I remember performing one classical song, my first on stage, a simple basic geetham, ‘janaka sutha‘ in saaveri raga (listen song), with my teacher playing tampura just behind me. I had a fever the previous day, or the next day, not sure exactly, but I remember wearing a blue frock with dots on the top and pleats in the bottom, with a white ribbon just below the chest, my favourite for that season. I also remember that I could not see anyone in the audience since all the lights were on me and I could not see my parents in there. I had forgot the last line and turned back embarrassed towards the teacher behind me, who reassured with a nod to continue and end it graciously.
At Noopura, I shifted my attention to the instrument Veena, not before trying my legs once in dance classes. The tall male teacher who taught dance made too much jokes. I was tall for the age, and had to bend down in lotus form with too much stress on my legs for the basic steps. I remember him scolding me once, and making fun of my posture, and that was my last straw for withdrawing from dance classes and sticking to just vocal and veena classes.
Slowly, I moved onto Sree Swathi Thirunal Sangeeta Sabha where I applied for diploma in music. At the reception, my father and I waited patiently, before being called for interview. I was asked to sing a song, to which I sang few starting lines of simplest version of ‘yaare rangane‘ in hindolam raaga (view song) . I passed the selection test, but stage shyness had unknowingly prevented me from vocal music being my first subject. There were weekend classes (Saturday and Sunday), there were music concerts to listen to in the academy, there was syllabus, real exams, both theory exam for which we need to study and write essays and one to one practical exams just like the audition of the latest talent shows. I learned veena classes for three years before retiring to concentrate more on my school studies.
When I joined engineering college, and had some free time, we went again to another veena teacher for private classes. She remained my last and best teacher. Her playing of veena was an absolute masterpiece I had ever heard. But for me, these classes were a hobby. The IT job and then the marriage, has distanced me from touching and practising my veena, though its still standing beautifully in my present home,fully covered.
In 2008, I found this website, Muziboo.com to upload music, another Facebook for music lovers, and had uploaded few and blogged about it already.
Now in 2013, I am revisiting all these just because I heard another piece of music today. Indeed music can connect with another person, revitalize someone, change your moods and emotions, and even bring back memories…