There is this very fine line which you have to jump across when you become an adolescent from a child. Very subtle changes indicate the arrival of maturity, the physical changes more evident than the mental ones.
There’s this teenager, who is listening to music in a bus while she stares out of the window, in her shell of oblivion, as she notices the world pass by. The universe in which she exists has music in a harmonious symphony with her soul, as she lets her emotions echo the feelings conveyed in the music. She does not want to dance to the melody at that time, no. She is not the child who used to mispronounce half of the words of the song she used to sing along loudly.
Those days are long gone when words were rote-learned, the tune memorized.
Now she realizes the beauty of a song, the poignancy of the words, the significance of the rich confluence of tunes from various instruments.
What happens when we listen to good music? The impressionable mind wants you to believe that the music is the moment. Aren’t our memories written in songs? An old song from high school makes you go back to the days, and reminds you how you used to feel. The distant melodies evoke the same feelings they used to evoke when you first heard them. Are our childhood memories written in the language of songs? A select few are. But the correlation is more in terms of events rather than the sentiments which they evoked.
The national anthem reminds me of the school assemblies we used to have. The compulsory music classes in school in which we had to sing at least one song to pass the test, and most students ended up singing the national anthem. Our school diary in which the anthem, barely comprehensible, were written. The people in the choir group who used to sing it aloud when the school assembly commenced. And music teacher’s harmonium and the tabla, which used to accompany the singing too.
However, there must be a time when there was more to it. I remember my grandfather, who was there when India was struggling for freedom, standing in rapt attention, not even moving a muscle, when the national anthem was played anywhere in his hearing range. I can visualize patriotic sentiments brimming out from his eyes in the form of tears as the music took him back to the time when India was not a free country and people around him were suffering all in the name of their motherland. Not only the anthem, which was officially adopted only after independence, but the melodies of songs like ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Saare Jahan se Achcha’ conjure waves of the sentiments associated with all the sacrifices, sufferings, hardships and the love of the country and its people. When these songs were sung in national assemblies before independence, they encapsulated the audience in a shell which had the music, and a nation of free people whose voices resonated with the music.
After India gained independence, the mind of the Indian citizen has reverted back to the child, in terms of patriotism; a child who does not have memories to go by the patriotic anthems. They are sung not when patriotism overflows from the heart, but when custom demands it, and words are mouthed and not sung.
But optimism demands that there will come a time when the child will grow up to be the adult who will find more meaning to them than conveyed literally by the song. This will be the time, of the great awakening of the people of the country.
Author: Anamika Agrawal