“All the Characters and Incidents in this article are fictitious and bears no resemblance to Reality. Therefore, hold your horses before you post a tirade in your comment, you’ve stumbled upon a garden variety Co-incidence…”
“Long Long Time Ago…
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile”
When I was a kid; I never respected anyone’s privacy. Especially that of my elder sister. Actually, I never thought of her as an Elder; She is what… only 13 years older than me! But anyway, I was in 7th or 8th standard maybe, woke up every morning, and the first thing I did, was to go to my sister’s room and search her bag thoroughly; maybe I’ll find something interesting! Usually, there was nothing, except for a pen drive full of animated movies, but sometimes I used to find other things.
The day I’m talking about is the day I found a Pouch containing 2 CDs, marked as “Let’s Folk” Disc One and Two. Anyway, I thought it might be a movie, so I went to the drawing-room and put the first disc in the CD player. But there was no movie. I was a bit disappointed when the TV Screen displayed “Audio CD” and started playing a song. I immediately went to the second track, but this time, I heard something familiar.
“Down the Way, where the nights are Gay
and the Sun shines daily on the Mountain top…”
The words were not familiar, but the strain sure was. I remembered a Bengali song that I heard;
“Pother Prante oi Sudur Gnaay,
Jetha somoy thomke thame Boter chhay”
I stopped and listened to the song. Once… Twice… and then I lost count. Little did I know, I was listening to “Jamaica Farewell” by Harry Belafonte.
Like I said, I was just a kid, and like every other teenager, I felt like I was in love. And just like every other teenage love story, my love was one-sided. At that time, it felt like love and it felt real. But anyway…
I won’t tell you her name; but sometimes she made me wonder, am I invisible? Jokes apart…
Every day at school felt like a defeat; as if somehow I can make her at least notice me or something, but every day when I came back home, I had those two CDs to keep me company. By that time, I have heard many ‘iconic’ songs, like “Blowin’ in the Wind” (Bob Dylan), “Monday Morning” (Peter, Paul, and Mary), “Scarborough Fair” (Simon and Garfunkel), I never understood all of them, I never even knew who or what I was listening to at that time, but I liked them all. As time passed, and I came home every day reeking of sour defeat; I started trying to figure out exactly what I was listening to. I created a list, and I had so many names, some of which, I’ve already mentioned before. But anyway, nothing much excited happened till my secondary examinations. After that, I learned that there was a song on that CD, called “Annie’s Song”, and it was sung by someone named John Denver. So, out of the blue, I downloaded an album called “Best of John Denver” and boy! That was amazing! Rocky Mountain High, Country Roads, Seasons Of The Heart. I became a John Denver Fan overnight.
By the way, that girl, she was still in my class. And she still can’t see me, and I felt like screaming at her…
“Come let me love you,
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms…”
But as usual, nothing happened. By the end of the 11th standard, I was listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, The Brothers Four, Joan Baez. Then something spectacular happened.
There was another girl… Well, she was not there before, but she is newly admitted to our school. And… She… Liked talking to me. Now, before things get more complicated I will assign two names for these two ‘girl type variables’
The old one is, say… Cecilia? and the new one is Emily; ok? So, Emily became my friend. I liked spending time with her, she was funny, witty and blah blah blah. Before I could realize anything, I started thinking about Emily, rather than Cecilia, and I don’t know why, but it felt like cheating (!) but before I could tame my treacherous heart, it was just drowning in the love of Emily. But lucky for me, she felt the same. So, on a warm December evening, during school recesses, behind the school compound, she said
“I Love You”
I felt like I was in some kind of trance, and before I could know, my heart was singing,
“I couldn’t hope to say how I feel, The joy in my heart no words can reveal…”
I remembered I was listening to Nana Mouskouri last night…
So, it began… as ridiculous as it might seem, me, a weirdo, a socially awkward introvert became the boyfriend of a beautiful girl.
But, before we could realize, our school life was over. We went to different colleges (obviously; I was the one wasting time listening to music, she was studying ) But, that was not so bad; I mean…
“Sometimes we grow together,
Sometimes we drift apart…”
In college, I was exploring more and more country music; Seals and Crofts, Jim Croce, Don Mclean… the list was endless. And before I could understand, my life was as much dependent on her, as much as it was on Country Music. We had our problems, like every other couple; but we always seem to find the way to get back to each other. By the end of the college, we were closer than ever.
I had a bad habit of going against the usual, and ordinary; so, most of the times I ended up alone and people making fun of me, as my extravagant ideas always met an untimely demise. I felt like the Boxer, whom Simon and Garfunkel describes…
“In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade;
And he carries the reminder of every glove that let him down
Or cut him till he cries out in his anger and his shame
I’m leaving, I am leaving but the fighter still remains.”
Maybe country music is what gave me some comfort, but she was the reason I carried on, never stopping and worrying about ‘people’. As embarrassing as it may sound, she indulged my craziness, and for sometimes I thought she even fuelled it. Kenny Loggins had a beautiful song; “Danny’s Song”; it goes like this
“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one
And we’ve only just begun”
And the song progresses making some very brave and flamboyant promises; such as;
“And even though we ain’t got money
I’m so in love with you, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the morning, when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright”
That’s what she was to me exactly; “The girl who holds the world in a paper cup”.
I never thought of my future, never planned ahead. Plans never work for me, I always focused on the present and moved forward. Because I’ve always thought whatever might happen in the future, I’ll always have her; she will take care of me, as I will hers. I never wanted to be a larger than life person, stuffed with fame and fortune; I just wanted to be a regular guy, living a regular life but having an extraordinary woman as a wife. I thought to be a teacher might suit my needs, after all, she is the ambitious one. So, I was thinking of focusing there, once my Masters’ Course was over.
It was 2014. Two days before Mahalaya. She called me, overjoyed! She got a job! I was euphoric too! But then came the less pleasant news. She’s moving to Some other city. So, after puja, she went away.
We talked every day. As her company was paying her bills, she used to call more, but we talked, I missed her presence. I missed doing all the crazy stuff I did just to make her smile when she was angry with me. Like all other couples, we counted days, when we will meet, again…
In those days I used to hear one song, every day, countless times;
“Till the white rose blooms again, you must leave me lonely,
So goodbye my love till then, till the white rose blooms again.
The Summer days are ending in the valley,
And soon the time will come when we must be apart,
But like the rose, that comes back in the spring time,
You will return to me when the spring time comes around…”
When she finally returned, I was in a bit of a sticky situation. My best friend’s dad was hospitalized, and there was very little hope of his recovery. I was restless, but still, I felt it was necessary for me to go to the station and receive her (God help me If I neglected an elderly man whom I will never see again). We sat in the cab together. After six months. I held her hand, for a few minutes, and then she did something she never did before, She talked less, and checked her mobile more. I got a very uncanny feeling; something I never experienced before. There were quite a few times in the past years, when I taunted her, asking who’s the guy she’s having affair with; just to watch her smile and punch me. But this time, I knew, I was not joking…
-“Who’s the Boy ?”
-“Are you kidding me ?”
She smiled. I smiled back. And she went back to her mobile.
That was the day, no country song could soothe me, or calm me down. Next day she called, what she said can be interpreted by a song by Gordon Lightfoot;
“I never thought I could act this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it.
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can’t get it back.”
That’s what she said, she doesn’t feel for me. She doesn’t belong to my future anymore.
I begged her… I cried, And
I begged her…
After a whole lot of crying and begging, she said she needed some time. I still thought I could fix that. Everything’s gonna be ok. We will be back together in no time.
One day after that, my friend’s father died. I went to the crematorium, and that day, it felt like a part of me got cremated too. She went back to her workplace. Months passed. Surprisingly, I did not hear any songs except for Scarborough Fair… and Sound of Silence.
Then the day finally came. She made a decision; This is not working out. All that time she needed, didn’t do any good. She can’t be with me, ever. She doesn’t feel for me, actually, she fell for someone else.
I cried some more… and begged some more… And cried again…
After Six long, happy years… It ended…
“The day, the music died”
I never had much of an ego, but that day, I killed my self-respect. She said it’s over. For the next two days, I felt like everything and everyone is laughing
at me, and when I tried to sleep, all that darkness in my room used to choke me. I lost the only balance I had in my life.
And then I met him… Eddie Vedder… He told me,
“Practiced on our sins
Never gonna let me win, uh huh
Just another human being, uh huh
Yeah, I don’t want to hurt
There’s so much in this world To make me bleed”
I rediscovered Gordon Lightfoot…
“Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dreams
I wonder how the old folks are tonight,
Her name was Anne and I’ll be damned
If I recall her face,
She left me not knowing what to do”
I don’t know how, but once again the country songs saved my life. It’s what kept me from self-destruction and emotional drainage. That and my ever supporting family. Actually, family is always there, But I had an extra advantage, and that is why this “writing” is called Country Songs and a Broken Heart” not “Breakup and My Family”.
I know, I wrote about six pages of complete gibberish. But I felt like writing, So, what can anyone do about that? I don’t know where to end, But now would be a good time… I think…
Peace and Love…
P.S. : If someone’s interested in the songs I’ve mentioned in this post, feel free to chech out the YouTube links given below. Thanks !