He had left the room; but, his echoes prevailed, reflecting and re-reflecting from every bit of live surface.
The physical vacancy never felt empty, rather, felt like a celebration of memories. His songs, like my childhood’s lingering scent, are inescapable; they are within me and not stored remotely in some static binary form. Each Pallavi of his, ingrained in those plastic neurons of mine, characterize and make me part of an army of the influenced.
It does sound overt, doesn’t it!
I had met him once; a heavy set, ebullient man, full of life, eager to impress. I just met him for a few seconds. I never “knew” him in the strictest sense of the word; I knew his voice: the way he smirked, romanced, cried; all through those famed vocal cords. I had wanted to say how he had made my otherwise tedious childhood remarkable, never possessed the language to communicate that; I don’t think I am doing it right even now.
There is something miraculous about his voice; through it, I sense god mocking the pessimists.
The verse in sippirukkudhu muthumirukkudhu, “sandhangal Neeyaanaal sangeedham naanaaven,” might have been written with a romantic intention, but I feel it has a more general relevance today. As the lyricist says, Balu sir would fill us up with a song, his voice—if we agree to be the poetic meter.
We are, but receptacles, art, and artists fill us up. We are the things we enjoy and cherish. His voice and songs have defined us and will continue to underline many more lives. Mohd Rafi breathed his last when I was two, yet his songs have influenced me. Our man might have left the building, but his echoes will decorate many more lives—the born and even the to be.
He isn’t there but he is. The room is vacant, but full
Alvidha sir; thanks for leaving a part of you with me…