As much as I ignore it, stating that I have other wordly duties to tend to, music always finds me, somehow. My mother has been a teacher of Indian classical music for more than 25 years. As a summer story, my grandmother lightly warned me that music wouldn’t ever let go of me because just before I was born, my mother had close to 6 full batches of music classes, every day. As I grew up I used to see my mother teach all kinds of people classical vocal music – old paatis (grandmothers) who had come down to a foreign land to meet and spend time with their working children, working professionals who used to work in the morning and practice aalaaps of various raags with my mother in the evening, housewives who cooked well and sang even better, and of course, the largest group was us – all the children from senior kindergarten to 12th grade! Those were fun days. Eventually, I knew I would invariably be teaching music someday. My first memory of teaching music was when I was 10 years old, sometime around 1998-1999. I was asking (more like coercing) 5 of my friends to study a song I had learnt at a class just a week earlier. While I was coo-ing away in the classroom, the teacher heard me and demanded angrily that I come right to the front of the classroom and sing in front of 60 plus students. It was a punishment for singing in class, instead of completing the assignment that was given to us. The subject was moral science and it was taught to combined classes. So, these were not just my classmates I was singing in front of, but people from other classes as well. Students were crammed in tiny benches and were staring at me. Nervous and fidgety, I proceeded to sing this:
‘Never tell a lie, even if in fun.
If you tell a lie, Damage can be done.
So always speak the truth, always speak the truth.’
Stunned silence, followed by weak applause and loud chuckles. I was red faced. My teacher, however, was mighty impressed. She had found a person who could teach moral values through songs! That’s basically half her workload done. So every moral class after that, I taught my classmates songs on peace, love, truth and happiness. My first role as a teacher was as a 10 year old gawky kid imparting funny songs on human values.
Recently, I bumped into a friend of mine who reminded me of those days. She teased me and asked me if I remembered those songs. “Of course not!” I squealed unconvincingly. But the truth is I remembered each one of them. She then told me that she still remembered those songs and proceeded to sing for me:
‘A smile makes you happy, happy inside;
Laughter comes to you, whenever you smile.
Life can be happy, life can be dull.
It’s up to you so, smile, smile, smile.’
Smile, I did. And then burst into a crazy fit of laughter as we relived childhood memories from a beautiful past.