“A Sad song usually means a heartbreak. “
“A sad yet hopeful song means your ex is still on your mind.”
“A happy song reminds you of the happy memories with your ex. In rare cases, your present.”
“An old song reminds you of your parents.”
“A dance number is the most frivolous of all genres. They are like one night stands. Good for the night and you call upon them only for another exciting night-out. The drama of emotions does not bother them. They’re free spirited and frivolous.”
“I love dance numbers. I like the fact that it could mean I am free spirited. But am I frivolous?”
Random thoughts like these were not anything unusual for Meena. Her mind could give Bolt, the canine superstar, a run for his money. Thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts inside her brain were beating each other to the non-existent finishing line. She turned each of them into little ideas that decorated her radio channel. A place that she loved.
“I was called creative; so I thought I must be. I just know I love music and that’s why I do what I do.” She said to an intern who had joined the station that day.
“I manage music. Actually music manages us. Close your eyes. Think of a song that makes you happy. Whose face comes to your mind? ”
The intern blushed.
“Point made, now get out. This is what I can teach you. For the rest, you need to fall in love with what’s on your plate. Also, I don’t know your name. And I don’t care. I’ll call you New Release.”
As New Release walked away with from Meena, she thought of the times when she was new.
Why was she here? Things went on rewind and… pause! Those were the times when you paid 25 rupees to get a 90 minute cassette filled, rather than the playlist on Apple music. Missing out on Chitrahaar for the damned Wednesday which aired a new song from the most awaited film could break hearts into pieces because then a music release didn’t come with a social media tsunami. When probably music meant something else and music makers…
“Meena! Meena!” Her thought bubble was busted by Anthony.
“You know that keeps happening with me.” She stretched her hands to overcome the dreamy lethargy.
“You need to meet Chandar babu today. He wants to showcase his music on our station and you are going to be listening to his brand new tracks.” Anthony declared.
“Noooooo!” Meena grimaced. “The last song he made was like a decade ago. I’m sure his music is crap. Don’t torture me. I will compensate for my bad behaviour with more hours of work. Oh wait! That I already do every day! Please be nice to me. You go In my place.” She pleaded.
Anthony smiled. “I agree Meena. You are right.”
Meena’s hopeful face lit up, only to fall flat with the very next sentence from Anthony.
“But why do you think I am sending you?” He burst out into an evil laughter.
“You are an ass! You know that, right.” Meena looked at him with disdain.
He walked away blowing her a kiss.
Chandar Babu was a faded superstar. His music was legendary for 3 -4 years in the 90’s. Then the story was such that he just couldn’t adapt himself to the new sound. He looked jaded too. Visuals flashed in Meena’s memory. His receding hairline, the same white kurta-pyjama, his room filled with awards; his words, flattering, flowered and boring.
The ritual started. He played a bit of every song on his harmonium first and then made her listen to the mastered track. Fortunately there were only three in the movie.
She hated the songs. Indian beats reverberated all over the room, it was a harmonium instead of the synth, lyrics so yester-year that they could make her slit her wrist… She wanted to tell him to get a life and that he shouldn’t make any more songs. Rather he should fade away with respect. She was lost in thoughts wondering if there was a way to voice out her mind, when Chandar Babu said,
“You know, every song is a person.”
Her first reaction was, he knows English? This was followed by an immediate second question, erupting in the darkest corner of her brain. “Did he bug me before I came here?
“When I compose a love song, I think of the person I have loved the most.” He beamed.
“Your wife?” She sheepishly asked, believing that this might be another hour of self-absorption or maybe this would lead to her being his new inspiration. It happens in the music business.
“It’s boring for you, I know. Yes, her name was Aparna. We were in college together. Totally in love and rebels, like you children are these days. We fought our battles and we won. I have been lucky to find true love. People ask me why did I stop composing! I didn’t stop, you know. My best songs were that of heartache and longing for someone. Just that, I didn’t find motivation anymore. My heart was full when she was with me. When she died, I didn’t know what to do. I avoided looking at my instruments, knowing pretty well that she could give me the notes back. Then I surrendered. I let it take me and the feeling has resurrected. The music is back in my heart. She now lives in my songs. That’s the only way I can be with her.”
“Can we hear the songs again?” She asked.
This time the music said a story, the lyrics were a person and the song was alive.
The music released soon after. The songs were a hit. Chandar Babu had found love in his heart and in his music.
She sent him a text, congratulating him. His responded back saying, –“Hope you find your music too.”
Meena went back home and looked around.
There they were, lying in the corner of the cupboard. In all these years she could never muster the courage to look at them or throw them away. A piece of plastic, a white cover, a strip of music rolled up in one cassette – a bunch full of memories recorded in 90 minutes. It was his birthday gift to her. They had fought their battle and lost it. A bike accident. After him nothing was permanent. Life had become a one night stand with emotions. They came in at night and she pushed them away as dawn broke.
She looked at the names of the songs written on the cover of the cassette. It was Chandar Babu’s biggest hit that year.