I slowly walked to the side of the desk. Whole theatre is silent to hear my words. I had given many life performances, but it is different altogether. I cleared my voice.
“I was weak in 10+2 mathematics and science, very basic subjects for getting entry into reputed IITs or NITs. My father has been working with government defense research projects as a chief research scientist. His reputation was at stake because of my low grades in all subjects in every exam. Although I passed every exam with minimal grades, I was always at the receiving end of humiliation and blame. My father always compared me with neighbor Mr Sharma ji’s son. Mr Sharma was our neighbor. He always visited our home just after declaring results. He would glorify achievements of his son only to raise my parent’s blood pressure. I stood first in extracurricular and sports activities while his son topped every exam. When I return that day, I use cotton clothes in my ears to ignore their harsh words.”
Subsequently, my parents, my neighbors, most of my friends mocked at me, made me feel contempt. I somehow completed engineering from a not so popular university much against my wish. It took lot of unwanted reading, boring lectures, impractical workshops, lot of money because my grades were low enough for hefty donation fees, number of backlogs and finally 2 more years than usual regular course to complete the degree. All these years of engineering, all I had is freedom. A lot of freedom, a freedom from expectations of society, a freedom from regular wraths of my father, a freedom from that comparison blames game our neighbor used to start whenever I was home. I had freedom to explore the world within and outside alike. I had freedom to work on passion of music, music composition and singing. Yet, I had to answer whenever my father visits me or I spend holidays at home.
Yes, freedom gives you lot of things. First and foremost thing it builds in you is daringness, an attitude to stand for yourself. After completing my engineering, I confessed to my father that I wanted to work in music industry. I knew he would not support me; I had already made up my mind to finance and support myself. If it takes to toil in some workshop in those blue jeans with dirty hands laden with oil or grease, I am ok with it. If it takes to carry KGs of gunny bags to the storing dock, I really insist to do since it mends all your muscles and mends my ego. Only freedom I wanted to have busy working is to get time for interesting compositions and public performances. Soon I understood, music is not for convincing the audiences to dance for it, ultimately Music should make audiences to feel the depth of those tunes. Music should soothe mind and soul. Music is above the barriers of religion or language or gender.
At this point of life where in I am standing in front of many great musicians of all time, I really feel obligated to share a tale of my ultimate guide, support person. It is not my society neither of my parents nor my family. For outside world, he is just a simple office clerk busy with boring paper works. I know by now, you could have imagined an obese, fatty bald person late in his 50s wearing one of those thickened glass tinted spectacles, lot of dust covered old papers, project files on his table sitting somewhere in the dusky corner where light hesitate to approach him. Even My father considered him useless not because he was ordinary second-class clerk; it is because being in a central government office, in respectable post, he condemned my father’s idea of comparison and impractical expectations.
He once asked my father in mid of an official annual function.
“Shuklaji, I heard that your son composes music. I have heard him singing as well. He requires some good training, indeed. He has a good voice.”
“Mind your business, Kumar. My son is useless. Look at that Sharmaji’s son. He is topper in competitive exam and secured a seat in topmost institute in the country. His future life is well settled. Already he is getting marriage proposals. My son would be still counting strings of guitar when sharma ji’s son counting six figure salary in hand. “
I was there guessing a possible outcome of clerk’s defeat. I knew my father very well, he is goddamn scientist, knew all latest news, good at logical arguments.
“No Shuklaji. No two things in world are same. Even products manufactured by finite precision robots have difference in tolerances and difference in their lives.”
“We are talking about living things. Human has brain. He can think. He can do it.” My father jumped to the argument.
“Yes, I agree. Does that mean could I login to your office chamber by swapping my card?”
“Why do you want to log in into my chamber? More than that, you’re Id and my Id does not match!’
“Exactly, same thing Mr Shuklaji. Yours DNA, Finger Prints, tongue impression, date of birth all are different from me. Similarly, you should not compare everyone based on same education. Sharmaji’s son may be having interest in engineering. He may be taking secret coaching classes; his father might have given him a studious environment.”
“Even I gave a separate study room, top class coaching to my son. He is still failure.” My father is stubborn not to accept his fault.
“Yes you have provided everything, but you fail to understand what your son desires to be. You forced him. Do you know how much one of his album fletching him in the market?” I Interrupted in between just to divert the topic. I do not want to disclose my source of income with my father. Anyhow, he remained stubborn until now.
Clerk knew many things about me. He is that secret admirer. Although not educated much like my scientist father, he has common sense. He knew how to nurture a child in spite of losing his only child much early. My thanksgiving or whole of my money or this award is not enough to pay for those words he said in my favor. I was badly in need of a support from parents when I had nothing to dwell, nothing to eat, yet lot of compositions playing in my mind. My parents never came then, and when I become famous, all of a sudden, my father calls me, my family accepts me.”
I had lot of things to share with audience. I felt exhausted. I was emotionally drained remembering those hard years, empty stomachs, rifted cloths, blames and curses, a sense of out casting whenever I approached music agencies, those dark , smelling rooms and only thing which made to live is just these seven notes of music. I looked at the brightness of the Grammy award I was holding by now. It is glistening; some teardrops fell on the award, it only amplified its beauty. It resembled those red roses blossoming early in the morning with dews over them.
I looked at the audiences, there is a long silence hearing my story. I knew somewhere my message might have reached many parents who do not support their children to pursue their dreams. I glanced at the audiences once again to see my special guest. Yes, he was there. He is cheering like a simple baby, clapping his hands in ecstasy as if he has won the award. Yes, this award belongs to him. I Just lowered my head in respect to that wonderful person I ever met in my life, a person who taught me value of following your heart.