Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Singing songs of freedom

School assembly was always defined by the watchword for the week. Watchword was typically a theme that was selected by a particular class and for the entire week, the class would have to put up a 5 to 10 minute performance sort of thing based on the theme, so as to inspire everybody. The is could be a skit or a reading of quotes or a song, pretty much anything. Even the choir would pick songs that seemed as relevant as possible to the chosen theme. And since I studied in a convent, it was inevitable that the theme was heavily moral laden. 

When I was a young lass in Class 4 B, my class teacher was this wonderful woman called Ms. Hyacinth. (I always wondered why her parents named her after an invasive aquatic weed. Truth be told, I am yet to make sense of it). Nevertheless, she was this petite, short haired and superbly intelligent woman. She was also one of the first people who literally threw me to the sharks to face two of my fears - stage fright and singing in public.  

So it was 4 B's turn to do the watchword for the week and we chose the theme "Freedom". Ms. Hyacinth made sure that as many people as possible got to participate.  I don't recall auditions for these little performances that we had to put up; whether one had talent or not, it was important that everybody got a chance to participate. Some quoted famous sayings, while others wore kurtas and dhotis with neta caps and reenacted the Indian Freedom Struggle. I sang! 

And so arrived one of my finest stage performances. I was made to wear a brown shawl with a yellow beak made of chart paper. I had to move my hands up and down as if imitating the flapping wings of a bird, and walk back and forth on the stage. All this while I belted George Baker's Una Paloma Blanca. 

And for some reason today I remembered how I felt that day. As I started singing, my voice quavered. With each new line, my voice grew stronger and I grew more confident. I also distinctively remember trying to remembering to flap my wings every few seconds, so I would successfully pass off as a bird. It was also one of the first tunes I learnt to play on the piano, with melody and chords. To this day, every time I play it, I try to sing along.  

Everything about that day was perfect. Almost everything actually. The one thing we got wrong was the colour of the shawl - it should have been white for Una Paloma Blanca means "A White Dove" in Spanish. 

For my magic box...

a patch of green from my mother's garden
the moon when it's giving a thin sliver of a smile
the silhouette of a tree on a purple night sky
a giant swing on a lake front 
my still menagerie of animal figures 
chocolates - all sorts
a picture of us by the sea
enough music to last me seventeen decades
the cat and dog to whom i am 'most favourite human'
my bookshelf
a hammock 
brightly coloured flip flops 
my faded and worn out black t-shirt

these are some of the things I want to put away in a box... the box that I will take with me when I leave...  

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I wait. .

to be in the company of friends
to throw myself into the arms of a loved one
to sleep on my bed
to sit in my rocking chair and watch as it rains outside my window
to turn all the lamps on and decipher what secrets their shadows cast on the wall
to drink coffee - black and sweet and strong - that will keep me hopping like a mad rabbit for 72 hours
to have loud nonsensical conversations with my menagerie of animal figures
to say hello to the strays every time I step out
to bake and let the aroma waft through the house
to eat rice, potato fry, dal and mango pickle for lunch
to dance like a banshee in every room there is
to live out of my cupboard or a pile of clothes on my bed rather than a suitcase
to pick up the newspaper from the carpet outside my door
to stay cooped up in my house all day long and still feel exultant
to draw up the blinds to let the light flood into my room
to savour the last piece of chocolate
to feel like myself again

I wait. . .