"All Music is Only the Sound of His Laughter" · Mother India · Personal reflections

Those Quiet Memories

A new post in the series – “All Music is Only the Sound of His Laughter”

Painting by Bindu Popli

A quiet, lazy summer afternoon.

A mother and a daughter sitting side by side on comfortable chairs. Sitting quietly. The daughter is idly browsing through some files on her cell phone, looking for nothing in particular. The mother is meditating with her eyes closed. Or at least trying to meditate. A nice, warm feeling prevails in the room. No sounds, except the slight hiss of the airconditioner, mixed with their quiet breathing.

Out of the blue, the mother opens her eyes and asks the daughter what she was doing. Nothing, she says, and stops fidgeting with her phone. Turns toward her mother, wating for her to speak.

“Do you have any old bhajans on your phone?”

“I don’t think so, but let me check. I may have a couple. Do you want to hear some bhajans?”

“No, not really. I just asked because your sister has a lot of bhajans on her phone. The other day, when she visited she played some for me.”

“Well, I only keep a few old songs on my phone…here, I found this old song, I think you may like it. Do you want to hear it?”

“Ok, play it.”

(Voice of Manna Dey, who died yesterday, 24 Oct 2013, Music by Salil Choudhary)


As the song plays, they both listen quietly. The song ends. The daughter plays it again. A few tears begin to swell up in corners of their eyes. The song ends. They sit quietly. Just with each other. Just by each other’s side. Nobody says anything. Only the silence speaks. Speaks of a quiet love, a quiet longing, maybe a quiet fear of what is to come.

They both know the inevitable can happen any day. The daughter may never have such an afternoon again with her mother. The deadly disease could strike its final blow any day. The memory will always remain with her, of that quiet afternoon, those few minutes spent in her mother’s drawing room…listening to the lines

maa.n kaa dil ban ke kabhii siine se lag jaataa hai tuu 
aur kabhii nanhii.n sii beTii ban ke yaad aataa hai tuu
jitnaa yaad aataa hai mujhko utnaa taDpaataa hai tuu
tujh pe dil qurbaan 

Sometimes you cling to my chest as my mother’s heart,
and sometimes I remember you as my little daughter.
The more I remember you, the more you torment me.
I shall sacrifice my heart for you. 

Motherland. Land of her mother. Her mother’s home. Her motherland. What will it be like to visit that home when she is gone? Does a mother’s home, a mother’s land remain so when the mother is gone?

The daughter may never know the reason why she chose that particular song to share with her mother that afternoon. May be she will.

Click here for the previous post in this series.

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