Tale of Two Songs

Or not … well, this isn’t exactly about two different songs, though one might almost think that. This is about a song sung by different generations, for different generations.

Heres what the black and white era brought, with the legendary Noor Jehan singing the song, in a sing which is very reminiscent of the era of movies immortalised by the likes of Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, or Saira Banu. A song which definitely young men a generation (or maybe two) old would have swayed to.

For those who can’t follow the lyrics, here they are.

And heres the same song, perhaps 6 decades apart from the original, sung by the gorgeous Meesha Shafi, for an audience from an altogether different generation.

This is the reason I feel Coke Studio (and Nescafe Basement) are very good ideas … they present tradition in a package appealing to youngsters (even to older people like me!), and so, keeping the tradition alive.

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Reflections on a Song

As i listen to a song by Bangla band Bhoomi, there is a thought which i thought i had to write somethere. And maybe no better place than this. This is a song from their album Udaan. This song is a calling out to Mother, something which can only be understood listening to the song. Anyway, thats really not what i am writing about.

There are lines in the song which go:

Mone pore shishu khela,

Mone pore chheda kantha re …

Translated, it means that i think about the little games played as a child, the slightly torn quilt which Mom used to tuck you into as you drifted into sleep, to dream your dreams, maybe. This is a line which almost always brings me to tears. It reminds … reminds of the childhood long gone, of the purple quilt i had as a child, which Mom would tuck me into on a cold winter night, and all the wonderful memories associated with the room, with the quilt, with the window which looked out to two mammoth Peepal trees, and the memories of the innocence, the charm of those days of abandon.

When one would come home tired from an evening of playing with friends, and this playing was harmless fun, force oneself to complete homework (if it hadnt already been completed by then) and then dinner, and off to bed, with Mom or Grandma singing the lori (lullaby) to get the mischievous one to sleep, tucked safely under the quilt. More than the warmth of the quilt, i find the quilt to be a symbol of the warmth of the love of parents and grandparents, and warmth of the sheer joy and innocence of those years of childhood which i (and i guess a lot of us) would look back at wistfully.

Which takes me to this one:

Ye daulat bhi le lo, ye shohrat bhi le lo,

Bhale chheen lo mujhse meri jawaani,

Magar mujhko lauta do wo bachpan ka saawan,

Wo kaagaz ki kashti, wo baarish ka paani …

Translated, these lines as fame and fortune to be taken away, even youth to be snatched away, but to be given back the beauty of childhood (cant think of another word to describe saawan), the paper-boats floating in the rainwater.


My Patch Of Sky …

They say the night sky is not the same in all directions … but, the day sky can be said to be. Standing yesterday, in the courtyard in our ancestral house, i couldnt agree. This patch of sky was different … it was mine, one that i had gazed at for years, and years altogether. This patch of sky had seen me toddle, had seen me grow, had seen my joy at the simple pleasures of life, and had seen my tantrums of teenage. This patch of sky had seen it all. This patch saw me going to school … it saw me have those crushes, and coming out of them. It saw me graduate to college, turning into a man. This patch of sky has seen it all.

Right under this patch of sky, is the courtyard of cricket … the little courtyard where cricket was played as children. And yesterday, we played again. When my son, me, and my father decided on a game of cricket … And, one thing i can say … that is, its not half as much fun playing cricket when theres no scene of any windowpanes being broken. Or, the possibility of hitting a six (read, hitting the ball on a terrace, from where its quite impossible to retrieve it). In fact, hitting it on the neighbour’s terrace was out, and breaking a windowpane was a 6. Interesting rules, indeed …

Right next to this is the corridor, leading to the attic of memories. This is the attic where i used to spend quite a bit of time. The room where i used to settle down to study, where i used to think about those crushes … where we used to play all sorts of games, from Ludo (actually, starting from Snakes and Ladders), to Chess, and Carrom … this is the room which i have inhabited for more than a decade. And, there is a part of me in this room. A part of me which probably hasnt grown up. And, a part of me, which the room beckons. For, this room, which is an attic, sits in an important place, in the attic of memories.

Then, there was the trip to the book bazaar … something which is the envy of all who know about it. This is a veritable goldmine of books … and, you get them cheap here. OK, so they are used books, but hey … that doesnt matter. From 17th Century Irish Divorce Law, to Midwifery, to pulp fiction nobody has ever heard of … this bazaar packs something incredible. Though, of course, a trip to the bazaar cannot be without a little detour (around 10 metres) to Pindi … The shop that makes the best Chholle Bhature in the world. I am sure they dont make them as good in Rawalpindi, too!