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

Of Homesickness, Hemant Kumar & Geeta Dutt

To see readers’ comments on this post, click HERE for its previous version.

There is something about spending a few weeks in your hometown, not really doing much but just being in the home where you came of age, where you lived for about 18 years and which was always your go-to place even after you moved away.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not being melodramatic or overly romantic about this experience of being back in one’s childhood home. Like most adults of my age I have my own inner and outer struggles to deal with when it comes to matters related to family, home, and family home. Homesickness and longing for my present home is definitely one of those struggles. Because of some difficult circumstances during the last year and a half I have had to spend a lot of time (A LOT!) in my childhood home, either taking care of some tough situations or simply being around when things were beyond me. Such experiences bring up their own set of challenges. Some easier to deal with, some not.

But there is one interesting thing I have discovered during the last year and a half. For some reason, being in this space called childhood home makes me especially long for old Hindi film songs. Especially those songs that I haven’t listened to in a long time. Weird? Maybe. But perhaps not so weird, because after all it was in this very space that I discovered my fondness for old Hindi film songs. It was this space where I developed an appreciation for those melodious compositions and those heart-stirring lyrics. All that and more, thanks to some wonderful conversations with my father.

Being in this space reminds me of those lovely weekday evenings and those lazy Sunday afternoons, listening to oldies on the radio. For many of those songs my father would share some interesting tidbits — who was the composer, which was the first song composed by that composer, which lyricist was the favourite of which composer, which singer had refused to sing for which composer, etc. He would remember such trivia for so many songs. As a child I used to marvel at his memory.

I still do, actually. He is very good at memorizing and recalling on demand many details on which I would rather not spend any time or any part of my mental energy – bank account numbers, PAN card numbers, passport numbers, voter registration numbers, all those numbers that are part of modern living. And he doesn’t remember such details only for himself, but also for all his children (perhaps, even his grandchildren I believe, though I need to check with him on this last point.)

But I was speaking of music. Old Hindi film music. Obviously, my taste in Hindi film music is to a large extent influenced by the kind of music my father admired. Though it doesn’t mean that we have exactly identical tastes. In fact, there are many, many songs that he enjoys but I don’t care about. However, we certainly agree on two things – Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt. We both enjoy pretty much every song these two talented singers ever sang in their lifetimes.

Maybe that’s the reason whenever I am back in my childhood home and feeling homesick for my current home which is about 2300 kms away, I find myself falling in love once again with some of the old favourite songs in the melodious voices of Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt. In a strange way, listening again and again to some of those old songs actually works as a cure for the feeling of homesickness. Perhaps listening to those songs somehow puts me back in touch with that forgotten feeling of “being at home” which I used to always experience in this childhood home of mine, many, many, many years ago. Perhaps listening to those songs brings me home in a way.

The song that did this two days ago was this one:

Singers: Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt, Composer: Mukul Roy, Lyricist: Shailendra Film: Detective (1958)

And if you want to know which Hemant Kumar song did the same trick yesterday, click here.

Photo: A little corner of my home, one particular morning

To see readers’ comments on this post, click HERE for its previous version.

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