Posted by: thetavernthoughts | January 12, 2019

The Solution

Aditya watched as the lift reached the sixth floor. His friend Vedant was by his side. They both had mud stains all over their school uniforms. Aditya held the foot ball beside along side with his bag and kept looking at Vedant with a half smile. Vedant kept staring at the indicator of the lift. The lift stopped on the sixth floor.

“Best of  luck” Vedant said with sardonic smile and a sarcastic tone.

“Oh shut up! at least I know how to score a goal. You toh never get selected even. You are bloody girl Aditya, you don’t deserve to be a boy.” Vedant retorted.

The door bank opposite to the lift was open. Vedant’s mother was putting incense sticks outside the door. She turned around and looked at Vedant. Her calm eyes flashed anger.

“Vedant you have spoiled the new t shirt” She caught him by the ear and took inside the house. Aditya smiled looking at the two of them

He pulled out the key to his house with his mud stained hands as the lift proceeded to the tenth floor. Some of the mud rubbed off the corners of the pocket and created a stain. Adiya rushed into the house and put his clothes inside the washing machine taking care to leave them beneath a pile of clothes already inside the machine. He then switched the machine on. He turned on the hot shower and curled up underneath it. The mud flowed down his skin to reveal his wheatish skin. His thin frame barely covered the bones. He looked at his thin long legs. He pushed his calf muscles as if to shape and strength them. He then lied back on the bathroom floor and left the shower water fall on him.

Every one mocked his girly voice and weak frame. The only place he felt appreciated was in the music class at the school. Their new teacher Dixit guruji as deeply impressed with his skill at singing. He closed his eyes he started singing the latest song he had been taught in class. “Let the winter cool the earth, on it, flamingos give  birth…” Simple rhyme and common verse of the song were stuck in his head.

He suddenly heard the main door open. Aditya wrapped a towel and rushed out only to find his father walked in. Father stumbled and the room suddenly reeked of Alcohol. Aditya rushed to support his father.

“Had dinner” his father asked with blood shot eyes. “I am not going to have any” His father suddenly got up and walked to the bedroom and crashed on the bed. Aditya put a bedsheet on him and rushed out. He put on a music channel and started humming tunes. He listened intently to how their tones were being modulated. He tried to figure every strum of the guitar and every beat of the drum. Eventually, he switched off the music channel and closed his eyes to practice one more time the song his teacher had taught him. He rehearsed first in his mind and then slowly gave his voice. This time the world around him disappeared, for him, only music emanating from his lips remained. He mentally corrected the scales to match the tones taught by his guru. Aditya felt that he had sung perfectly. After rehearsing the entire song he closed his eyes and observed the silence as taught to him by his teacher.

The Silence was broken however by sound of claps. He opened his eyes. His mother was at the main door waiting for him.  He rushed into her arms. “You sing well” she said, “Your voice is surely a gift of the gods.” Aditya could feel the blood rush into his cheeks. It had been a while since his mother said anything nice to anybody. She too was extremely thin.

“Have you had dinner?”

“No I was waiting for you mother” He said.

“What about your Dad?”

“Inside”

“Ok, go get the plates,”

They generally had dinner in silence but tonight Aditya’s mother was full of questions.

“Where did you learn to sing like this?”

“New teacher in school” Aditya answered with his mouth full of food.

“Yes but so well.”

“I do not know about that but Dixit guruji considers me his favourite student.”

“Wow. We must meet him then.”

Aditya smiled as he noticed his mother’s eyes light up like never before. Her cell phone began to ring, Aditya looked intently as she cut the call and spoke to him instead.

“Look Aditya I will give you a note. Give it to your Guruji.”

“Ok”

She tucked him to bed that night, Aditya counted her mobile phone rang four times in between. She cut the call four times. Aditya hugged her and fell asleep smiling.

The next morning he eagerly waited for the music class. The lectures had never seemed longer and tedious before. He wanted to meet his guruji. His mother had given a beautiful brown envelope with a letter inside for his teacher. Throughout the lectures Aditya kept looking at the envelope wondering what his mother had written. He desperately wanted to know what was in it. The only way to know was to give it to his teacher. Finally after lunch, the music period started.

Aditya sat in the front row, right in front of his favourite teacher. Mr Dixit, cleared his throat and looked at the faces of  the children. They all seemed a little sleepy, except Aditya who was as always excited. He smiled at Aditya.

“Today we learn the basics of Indian Classical Music”

The lecture was mostly about Ragas, Aroha and Avroha in the Indian Classical music. At the end of the lecture, the teacher to increase level of the class made them recite and practice a fast paced song. When the lecture ended Aditya gave his teacher the envelope. The teacher opened the envelope and read the letter.

“You mother wants me to teach you along with my other students who take these lessons privately. Are you interested?”

“Yes” Aditya said eagerly.

“Come with your mother, I am writing my address behind on the envelope.”

The next day after school Aditya opened the door with his own key. Lo, Behold his mother was right there. She was scrambling through her purse.

“Don’t relax, get fresh and ready we are going to music teacher house for your private tutoring.”

Aditya rushed in to the bathroom. Even in the sound of drops of shower he could various tones of music. He wiped the steam of the mirror in the bathroom. He smiled and looked at his perfect white teeth. He then proceeded to gargle loudly and spit out the water.

“Aditya come out fast.” His mother called, Aditya rushed out of the Bathroom.

Since that day Aditya started spending evenings with his guruji. Many other students came to Guruji’s place to learn music. They were from many different schools. Aditya could easily blend in, especially because Aditya’s voice made him something of a celebrity.

All guruji had to do was teach a new raga and Aditya seemed to effortlessly pick it up. At the end of the session Guruji would make every student sing personally, to help them get over stage fright and to see how much they had learnt.

On everyone of these opportunities Aditya felt a surge of emotion veiling up in his chest. A strange tension would seize him. Slowly beginning from toe and straight to his his head. He would feel as if his body is completely paralysed. Eventually it would be his turn to sing. He would walk in front of the class with jelly feet. He would survey the room and clear his throat before beginning to sing the Raga that had been rehearsed. As Aditya would sing the tension in his nerves would dissipate. He would feel light as feather before becoming completely focused on the music emanating from his throat. He could sense the rhythm in the ragas and control the pitch accordingly. Although he would make mistakes, the melody of his voice covered up these blunders. At the end of the song, other students would generally applaud the young boy. Aditya could feel the blood gush into his cheeks and he felt that his ear were hot every time.

What he enjoyed the most, however, was rehearsing everything he had learnt in front of his mom and dad. On very second day itself his father had surprised him by coming to pick him outside the class. Aditya had run towards his father as fast as his legs could follow him. His guru taught him that music was holy, and he believed his guru that day.

He remembered what his teacher had said. “Music is scared and it guides you to the divine. It is more about finding the inner truth, like Yoga, it is way of the union with the universal truth. The way of music is the way of warrior. In path of music you will meet many enemies, internal and external. The only way to beat them is practice, patience and sacrifice. SACRIFICE children is most important of the three. If you ever chose to become a musician by trade you will understand what I mean.”

As his father drove him back home. Aditya knew he was ready to sacrifice anything for music. The scared chants it seems, had enchanted his parents to come together again. After going home he practiced some more patiently. As he slept at night he wondered what sacrifice he would have to make in order to become the best singer in world.

The next evening, his mother dropped him off early at guruji’s place. He was surprised to see lot of elder students singing. Aditya sat listening carefully to them. The students were mostly in their early teens. One of them caught aditya eye and ear. God her voice Aditya noted. Geeta looked at him and Aditya realised that he had been staring. He involutarily blushed that seemed to make geeta smile. Guruji gave the class five minutes recess.

Geeta walked up to him. His heart started beating madly.

“Hey, I am Geeta, what are you called kid?”

“Aditya”

“Aditya, what std are you in Aditya.”

“I am in 1st Std”

“Wow, you are really grown up! Tell me what you are doing here”

Aditya felt a little annoyed with that question. He answered confidently though

“Is it not obvious that I am here to learn singing.”

Geeta was taken aback “Well you could be like Guruji’s relative!”

“Oh! No no, mom dropped me a little early today”

‘What have you been learning?”

“The basic exercises for modulation you know” As he spoke Aditya noticed that sleeve of Geeta’s kurta had raised up to expose her wrist. Her wrist seemed to have faint cuts. Geeta suddenly folded her hands and Aditya looked up at her startled.

“Sing” she commanded. “I want to see what you know”

Aditya swallowed a bit of saliva as his throat got dry and palms sweaty. She look right into his eyes, and his heart beat had suddenly gone through the roof. He cleared his throat and said “I am the best in my class. I will show you.”

Aditya closed his eyes to block her out and started to sing. His notes were out of tune at first. He did not stop or open his eyes. Instead he observed something in his mind’s eye as he started to give his voice form. It was Geeta’s wrists and those subtle cuts. It reminded him of his own dysfunctional childhood. His voice thus, got a twinge of that sad note. Geeta was taken aback by the clarity and serenity of his voice. When he opened his eyes he could see the look of shock in her eyes. She patted his back and said “Do not ever give up singing”. Their recess ended and Aditya sat there gloating.

The second session was a blurr to Aditya. He kept thinking about the stunned look on Geeta’s face when he had stopped singing. The look gave him a strange thrill. When their session was over, he followed Geeta out of the class. She was with other girl’s in the class. She waved at him as he approached her.

“Aditya here has a brilliant voice?” Geeta told her friend

“I know I heard him too, Just hope puberty does not ruin it for him.”

Geeta giggled “I am sure he would be fine”

Aditya the silent spectator to the the whole conversation, however, suddenly felt a little sick in stomach. “What the hell was this Puberty thing?” As children from his batch started arriving the class Aditya took his place right in front of the teacher’s desk.

“Today we are going to practice the intonation for Raga…” Although the sounds were falling on his ears, Aditya could not comprehend the things being taught by guruji. His mind was occupied with one thought. What would happen if he lost his voice. That day at rehearsal time, he was consistently off beat. After repeatedly explaining the problem to him, guruji got annoyed.

“All the praise is going to head. Remember Music is scared and demands humility” Guruji shouted at him.

Aditya could feel the perspiration on his forehead. His lips went dry.

“I am sorry Sir, I did not quite follow the concept today.”

“Of course you did not follow the concept. Your head was full of praise. Go sit down.”

Everyone in the class began to murmur. Aditya sat down humiliated. He decided to go home and practice on current session more. He strained his memory to figure out what Guruji had said during the lecture. As other students took their turn, Aditya furiously worked to understand what he had missed. By the end of the lecture he was fairly confident that he had learnt everything he had missed.

With stoic determination he waited out Guruji’s house. One by one all the students left. Aditya’s father had not arrived. As the crowd thinned out Aditya’s mind went right back to the horrible day. ‘Puberty’ one word suddenly sprung up and once again Aditya felt anxiety rise from within and take over his entire existence. What was the dark magic of this word which had so distracted him. He instinctively knew that the word had an adult innuendo. He brushed the thought out of head angrily and decided to focus on his missed lecture instead. He wanted to reach home and practice everything he had learnt. He was angry with his father for being late. Just then his father arrived.

He was going to ask his father the causes for the delay, but the alcohol on his breathe gave him away. His father seemed to be in his senses. Aditya stared at his father’s face and sat beside him in silence. His father had a guilty look on his face.

“Sorry, I am late, I got caught up at work.”

Aditya knew it was a lie. He also knew his mother would be upset now, they would probably fight. He was terrified of the quarrel he was sure would ensue. All he wanted to do was practice his session. Perhaps singing would save the day for him. So he practiced with unusual fervor that evening. His mother happy with his progress kept calm despite his father’s clear relapse.

The whole night Aditya tossed and turned. What if he got puberty and lost his voice, his family would fall apart!

The child with miraculous voice however was fast becoming very famous. His teacher had offered to send him to a televised show. This was big deal for Aditya and his family. His fathered seemed to be sobering his act again. Success brought with it the anxiety of losing. He was now haunted in his dreams. Losing his voice would mean losing the world.

During one late night practice session before the big televised show, the subject of puberty was broached again in front of Aditya. One of the older students seemed to have lost the control of his voice. Since it was just boys in class the guruji seemed liberal with use of launguage. Guruji laughed “When the balls get heavy so does the voice” Everyone laughed.

After the class Aditya asked his Guruji “What was the joke all about?”

“Well son it is not my place to tell you. It happens with age you just focus on your singing”

“What if my voice gets heavy to and I am not able to control it.”

“You will still be able to train your voice.”

“I will not lose my voice”

“Well you may not sound as sweet as you do. Look if your voice becomes completely terrible you can still play an instrument. Every person will find his/her place in the world of music. Don’t worry.  Does Ustad Zakir Hussain have a good voice? Who knows? But he plays tabla so well!” Guruji explained.

Aditya felt that the teacher was consoling him. He felt very anxious.

He asked one of the friendlier teenage boys. “What’s the deal with you people not controlling you voice.”

“You will face issues once you hit puberty as well”

“What is puberty?”

Pointing towards Aditya’s balls the elder boy said “They start working little man. And man learns to get the big…hahaha you will understand with time”

“What does that mean?”

“You are a kid you will learn with time.” The teenager answered very seriously this time.

The televised show went well. Aditya’s father called every relative that they knew. He was estactic. They all praised him a-lot. He was the first member of the extended family to appear on television. More shows were lined up. Aditya had been star of the show, his innocent eyes and sweet voice made him quite famous.

All the praise only made aditya more anxious. All musicians make sacrifices. The phrase was stuck in his head. He could not afford to sing badly anymore.

That night as his parents slept, Aditya twisted and turned in his bed. He had to make his sacrifices. He could not afford to lose the control of his voice. The night dragged on for Aditya. He could feel his stomach churn with anxiety. His mouth filled with bile. He rushed to the bathroom. He closed the door quickily. He did not want his parents to find him this way.

He rushed to aim the vomit at the commode, in turn he ended up dropping things on the floor. Fortunately the noise was not too loud. One of the things he dropped was a razor. As bent and picked the razor, Aditya cut his fingers. The blood just gushed out. Keeping his hand to the side Aditya picked up other things off the floor. He suddenly realised he also had to piss. All the anxiety had gone to his bladder.

In a hurry he ended using his injured hand to hold his penis while he took an aim. The wound immediately burned and Aditya immediately moved his other hand to replace the injured one. As he pissed into the pot, he noticed his testicles dangling. He knew then what the elder boy had meant. When the testicles start working you loose control over your voice. 

The pain of the freshly cut palm made him think clearly. “All musicians make sacrifices, to be the best musician I will make the biggest sacrifice of all times.” Thinking thus, Aditya picked up the razor with his injured hand. The blood started flowing from the former wound profusely.

His legs started shivering, but he moved his hand down with force. The razor sliced thorugh his testicles. The world suddenly became red Aditya smiled at the sacrifice he had made. 

When he came back to his senses he screamed. His shouts woke up his parents. They took him to the hospital. 

“I slipped and fell on it in my sleep” he claimed. Both the parents looked at him sympathetically but Aditya could feel the distinct tension between them. He felt drowsy because of the medications. As he drifted off into his sleep he could hear his father apologies profusely as his mother kept saying “I have had enough” 

“Atleast I will have my voice” Aditya thought as he smiled to sleep.

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