There is a peculiar trait that I observe in my friends. Though they used to love vocal music in the initial days of our acquaintance, they all either turn music-haters or lovers of instrumental music within days of our acquaintance. I have always been surprised by this fact but once I heard the strains of a Rafi song just as I was approaching my friend’s house. A friend loudly whispered, ‘Suresh is coming’ and, then, there was sudden silence followed by the lilting tones of Chaurasia’s flute. The mystery was solved.
I have never really been able to appreciate music unless I sang along with it. I know I have a lovely voice and can hold a tune perfectly. When my friends say things like “Put a sock in it” or “God! If I had wanted a donkey in the house I would have invited one myself” (to a chorus of ‘But you did invite one’) and things like that, I smile indulgently because I know that it is merely juvenile high spirits. This preference for instrumental music is, therefore, merely because I would not be conversing when I sing. I was immensely moved by how much my friends appreciated my scintillating conversation that they were willing to forego their favorite songs in order to ensure that they had the benefit of my words.
It is not that I sing only when someone is playing a song. I am a good enough singer to sing even without such accompaniment. Another peculiar trait that I observe in my friends – the less juvenile ones – is the way they compliment me. When I am done with singing a song, one would say, ‘Great song’ with a peculiar inflection on the second word. Another would say, “How do you manage to remember all the lyrics” and, if I did not know him well, it would have seemed very much as though he was regretting that accomplishment on my part.
It is not that I lack for people who genuinely admire my singing and express it without reservations. There is an interesting statistical fact about these admirers, however! My Tamil friends are lavish in their praise of my rendering of Hindi songs and my Hindi friends are bowled over by my rendering of Tamil songs. If I were a more suspicious character, it would seem as though that that praise was out of relief at their own favorites not being mangled coupled with a desire to keep me off their favorites for as long as possible. I am not that paranoid, however.
It is while we are traveling by road that my singing is non-stop. As I have mentioned earlier somewhere, when I am traveling by road the contents of my stomach also feel the irresistible urge to travel upwards and outwards. If that urge is mild, I try to keep my mind off the churn in my stomach by singing continuously.
There are two schools of thought that my friends pursue as an interesting means of warding off the monotony of the journey. One group argues that it would rather have me spew the contents of my stomach than sing. The other group acts as though it can see the point of that argument but feels that the singing is just a hair better than the other option. The clinching argument is produced by the second group when it says that if the vomiting were to be silent then they would prefer stink to song but, since that was unlikely, song wins over stink coupled with sound. Nice to know that you can ensure that people amuse themselves though it always amazes me that people will go to any extent to hide the fact that they enjoy your singing! When I say that they ought to be grateful to me for alleviating the monotony of the journey all of them act as though they were terribly annoyed. Great actors, my friends!
The least I can do for such wonderful friends is to keep singing and entertaining them!