A disclaimer is needed for this post. This post is dedicated to my brother with MJ style hair (Bhai insists it is HIS style, not anyone else's since he has always pictured himself with long hair. Okay dude! Cool it! ) and a hat and his Jimi Hendrix fandom. I was recording his band performance when his ardor and the spirit with which the band members-his friends sang and played the guitar got me thinking. Guys! This is not a description or a report of your performance. Maybe this has nothing to do with you guys. It’s just my thoughts going haywire.
The night invites you to immerse yourself in her darkness
To drown your shadows in her deepest recesses
The night calling to each in her own special way
To rest and revel, to sing and sleep, to think and unthink
To come into your own and to break down the barricades and
Bonds of your own making, bonds of love and hate, of dilemma and determination
To allow the night to penetrate into your lives
To clothe yourselves in the blackness of the night
To camouflage yourselves in the music of the moment
“The performance will begin in a little while. Please be patient while the stage is being set.” An announcement blared from the backstage. The audience prepared to wait another few unbearable minutes. It was 12 am already. Many families were bidding goodbyes, marking the end of this year’s pujo. Some were heading to the food stalls to have a dinner of sorts; while others chatted on as before, indifferent to stage shows or the time of the night.
A little music wafted from the curtains. A little testing was on. It was a local band. Three to four music enthusiasts had got together a year or so ago and had been given the final slot of the final day of the pujo. It was a trend that had started two years ago. It was their third year and none of them had planned on this year’s performance. They had not sought a slot since they had not yet formed a formal band. However, everyone wanted the trend to continue and hence, in response to “we want a performance”, “you have already been given a slot” and such persistent statements, they had got a few people together and were planning on singing whatever songs they could remember. After the noon bhog and before evening, a little singing and a little strumming was all the rehearsal they could manage. The rest, the night would tell.
The audience had visibly thinned. Only the performers’ families remained. And some others of course. Friends, music lovers and pujo revellers. And a few pandal hoppers too.
“How much more time?” an impatient kid prised open the curtains and peered into the stage.
“Done, nearly done. In a minute.” said a lanky guy in a greyish kurta and blue denims, patting his long tresses under a black-blue hat.
As if the kid had given them a warning signal, the curtains parted within a minute. Four chairs were placed side by side, with all the singers and the guitarists seated on them. Three guitars and two extra chairs completed the scene. The seating arrangement looked like it won’t be a rock night after all.
The first song set the tone for a romantic gig, a soulful mellifluous night. The singers had succumbed to the night’s amorous lilting clutches. Song after song took one to their personal utopia, their favorite fantasy haven. The stage gave them a chance to live out their ideas, to express their idiosyncrasies cloaked under the shadow of the night and to be their alter egos without sacrificing their existing identities.
After almost every song though, the singers came back to life, stopping to recollect, looking at each other to ask about the next song, changing places and preparing to get engrossed in their next musical number. When they stopped singing, there was chaos. Confusion. Awkwardness. Embarrassment.
A woman waved to a singer on the stage. She mouthed, “Let’s go. Its late” showing her watch. The family of one of the singers was leaving and he was in a dilemma wondering how to get home. They were taking the car. He didn’t know if the others could drop him home. The others lived nearer and could simply walk. But he had some distance to cover.
He missed a beat. They had to start the song again. Some of the people from the front row had left. But the requests for songs kept pouring in. They knew that their music dilly dallied between their passion and the others’ indifference. There are only two kinds of responses to music- either you are an ardent fan or you have nothing to do with it. It's your luck if the people you live with plug in their earphones to listen to music or to get away from it. After a while though, the first category slides into the latter as their obsession clashes with the tolerance of the people they live with.
With a time ballpark in mind and the thinning crowd, they concluded their show with a final song request. It was over. Their musical camouflage had ended. Now they were back to their own lives, replete with responsibilities and dependencies, to-dos and pendents. The stage time was over. The alter egos were sent back to their havens, waiting for a time they could come out in the light of the day and be accepted.