The monsoon raga

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

“Barase badariya saawanki…, saawanki… manh bhavanaki” poured the lyrics based on Megh Malhar – the raga of Monsoon. A vocal session was on.

Sitting behind a bay window, Ashok looked out smelling the oncoming rain. A gentle breeze outside swayed the champa tree, which had grown up to his third floor apartment.

The tabalchi pulling his kurta sleeve up, caressed his left and right tablas and softly sounded the teental beat 1,2,3,4. Ashok tested his guttural base notes and began to punctuate the lyrics to suit the tabla measures.

For quite a few moments the nuances of Megh Malhar, Miyanki Malhar, Desh Malhar and other rain ragas seemed to get mixed up in his mind.

Outside, the sound of the wind picking up, dust circling to move in all directions and the bleating of vehicle horns distracted him.

Ashok needed to focus to filter out the recessive traits of the raga to steady himself to give body to the main raga of the monsoon. Out pours, akar thunders, and lashing lightning like thihayees (endings) enveloped the room.

The Guru sat in front with closed eyes and bated breath. The tempo had to double up. Soon the clouds sailed closer hugging each other to darken the sky while Ashok coaxed “Ni, dha ni, sa, sa” notes.

Swivelling around other notes Ashok’s mood developed and the build up gave way to the release and fury.

The tabalchi sweated it out keeping up to the tempo. Outside large drops of pitter patter lashed the window panes adding to the mood and mingled with the tabla rhythm. Ashok sang in gay abandon. Oblivious of the Guru sitting opposite. He reached the crescendo, so did the sky.

The clouds burst fully, lashing the window panes in fury and the lightning struck like the raga’s embellishments. Ashok reached the climax and began the slow coast down as the tabla sound softened. The rain petered down drop by drop, flooding the side walk. There was no sound after the fury.

The Guru was overjoyed that the pupil had made the mark. The champa fragrance filled the atmosphere.

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