Today, while channel-surfing casually–I was waiting to open the cooker–I came across DD airing MS Subbulakshmi’s Bhaja Govindam, Mi! She would have been 100 years old today, you know. Oh, that dear charming face, the gorgeous voice! How wonderful it was to listen. As the song played I quickly got lunch ready and sat down to enjoy it with the music filling my ears and my senses and of course, I couldn’t help but trail down memory lane.
I remembered how, during my childhood, on Sundays, we practically had a music fest after our brunch. Kondu mama would literally light up the place with his cheerful attitude, cleaning, cooking, triggering laughter and conversations, joking about all the people we knew.
We’d expect Bore mama to come over sometimes and while we were quite fond of him, we would love to tease him. I loved it best when Athai came over. I have such fond memories of Paati and Athai on one side of our huge “hall” aka living room, while others were scattered around, in their own favorite spots. I loved the window sill best, with a few of my toys and books.
Once lunch was wound up, and the kitchen cleared, we would all settle in the hall, in anticipation. What fun it was to have Kondu mama bring out the record player and the records, while Gopmama lounged with his crossword. Kittu mama would get busy browsing through his mental list of tiffin options for the afternoon, after we all had tea.
Then Kondu mama would start the musical fest with some Cliff Richard songs and we would sing along. Remember what fun it used to be, Mi? Summer Holiday was my favorite then! That would be followed by some KL Saigal, some Juthika Roy . . . And then, MS Subbulaxmi. How heavenly it was! Then at 2.30, tea would be made and enjoyed, sitting on the floor in the middle of the hall.
I especially recall those sparrows chirping–they had a little nest in the corner of the room near the window and they’d keep flying in and out through the window without bothering anyone. Such nice live and let live times!
After the last MS record, we’d listen to MLV and it would be the cue to start making tiffin. Kittu mama always voted for bajjis or pakodas, while Kondu mama would root for sabudana upma! Sometimes there would be a tie and both would be made and about an hour later, we would all assemble again in the hall to sit and enjoy it together.
It is funny to think that after that, later in the evening, we would go for a walk or to the temple nearby and come back for an early dinner before getting ready to start the week the next day. Around 9 the kitchen would be closed and we would listen to the radio as everyone drifted off to sleep, slowly. I loved how Gopmama told me stories, stretching those fairy tales with his own versions. But I loved your stories best, Mi! Hugging you and sleeping, as you stroked my hair, making me believe I was so very special.
Do you remember how I searched high and low to get that 5-tape set of MS’s songs? Still have it.
Fast forward to decades later, and we would play these on Saturday mornings and let the musical notes lovingly caress us before we decided to get up and start the weekend.
Yes, I still like to believe that when a leaf or flower falls on me from a tree when I am out there walking, it is a blessing. It is nice not to grow up in some ways. Because that’s how we create our cozy place–that place we can retire to, feeling the cocoon of love when we need it.
I wish you were here to listen to this song now. But come to think of it, you can probably hear it live up there, Mi.