Five years of silence! The world around me kept shouting, shrieking and screaming. In the mad race to be heard, decency and dignity gracefully withdrew; I too. If you find me back, thank the 15,000 odd visitors who viewed my blog, even when I wasn't updating it.
During this period (COVID-19 included), I never felt fed up, forlorn or forsaken. Keeping me confident and cheerful was music. Every genre, irrespective of its land or language, engaged me. There was much to explore; much more to learn and experience.
An incident of over 25 years, comes to mind. I was at a trade show in Delhi. Hearing a Ghazal on the public address system, I asked the hostess in my company’s stall about that album. She turned to her friend and quipped: ''Hey look.... Who's talking about Ghazals?''
The sarcasm was evident, but not surprising. India being incredibly diverse, such perceptions based on ignorance do exist. Few people know, fewer even bother to know that as early as 600 AD, dance-song forms like Ghazal and Maappila paattu (Qawwali), Oppana (Afna in Arabic) and Kolkkali, inspired by Sufi poetry and music had begun to emerge in Kerala.
Musicians like H Mahmoob, M S Baburaj (Mohammad Sabir Baburaj) and Umbayee (P A Ibrahim) contributed to the popularity of this musical stream. No doubt, Hindi films with its wider reach, were at the forefront, but Malayalam films were not far behind. In those early days of songs like Teri mehfil main kismat (Mughal-E-Azam), Na to karvan ki talash (Barsaat Ki Raat) and Sharma ke agar yun pardanashi (Chaudhvin Ka Chand), M S Baburaj composed a Qawwali for a Malayalam film, a trendsetter by any standard.
Aren't we fortunate to be living in this world of soothing rhythm, melody and harmony?
"Music was my refuge.
I could crawl into the space between the notes, and curl back to loneliness."
- Mary Angelou -