Monday, May 25, 2015

Ghar, Masoom.

I had bought the cassette from a posh music store on Birhana Road in Kanpur on my thirteenth birthday. This was when Kanpur itself was considered posh, and Lucknow it's sleepy cousin. My uncle had thought I had bought the tape for the famous kiddie song, amused that at thirteen I was still excited about children's music. He ate his words soon after. 

For the next ten years, until I married a music aficionado who introduced me to a lot more music than I had ever heard, the tape remained my friend philosopher and guide. It taught me about love, it taught me about life: between the two albums you had everything from falling in love, to romance, to longing, and of course philosophy (how can you not have a generous dose of philosophy when you have Gulzar writing the songs?). 

It is difficult to pin-point which side was my favourite though. For on one side you had songs like Tujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi  and Do naina ek kahani -- songs that summarise life for you in less than two minutes, on the other you had Aapki aankhon mein kuch and Phir wahi raat hai, songs that are epitome of romanticism. 

Perhaps that is why, at different points in my life, I found myself attached to different songs. When I was dejected I found peace in the throaty voice of Anup Ghoshal -- it seemed as if he was singing Tujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi for me. When I was heartbroken I went back to Do naina ek kahani. How beautifully it tells the story of life: thoda sa badal, thoda sa pani, aur ek kahani -- true what is life but a long story?

When I fell in love, which happened quite often, I hummed Aajkal paaon zamin pe nahi padte mere, somethimes smiling, sometimes blushing to myself. When I longed for my love I found peace in Tere bina jiya jaye na (it is another story that I was found singing Do naina.. soon after). In the rare event that my love was realised -- I don't recall it happening more than once -- I indulged in Aapki aankhon me kuch. The song remains one of my all-time favourites and the only Lata Mangeshkar song I can sing well, even now.

The album also taught me about music and poetry. Until then I did not care much for Gulzar or R.D. Burman but from then on, most of my music had both of them in it. It taught me how to sing too: for the longest time whenever I was pestered to sing by my family (I was supposedly a fine singer), I would sing one of the songs from the album.

And then life happened. Suddenly I was uprooted from my comfort zone and planted in a strange place where there was no time for love, romance, philosophy. Life became an endless cycle of work, home, family, chores, and then children followed. Whatever little time remained for music was taken up by husband's love for Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. Like a good wife, I adapted to his music too. Ghar and Masoon were now like some long forgotten lovers -- I thought of them sometimes, but never felt the need to go back to them. 

Last week, when I found myself alone at home for two full days after a very, very long gap, I was reminded of my long lost love for the album. I promptly pulled my phone out, connected it to husband's Bose and played the album on loop. For the past two days I have been learning life's lessons afresh.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Other Woman

Monday mornings can be crazy, especially in a house with two hyperactive children and two over reactive parents cohabitate. Monday mornings can also be relieving though: after the children and husband are gone, my tired bones finally get some rest from the incessant running around of the weekend. Monday mornings also happen to be the time when I catch up on my weekend reading -- Sunday newspaper, weekend blogs, online updates. While browsing through one such update today, I came across an exceptionally beautiful picture. And it has been on my mind all day. 

The picture, which probably must've gone viral by now, shows a very suave Amitabh Bacchan, in a white kurta and a beige pashmina shawl almost walking out of the frame in the background. In the foreground, a very beautiful Rekha, with her beige silk sari, her gold jewellery, and her red lipstick intact, is smiling at someone while arranging her hair at the same time. Now, I am not a great fan of the Amitabh-Rekha pair, or of anyone else for that matter, and the pictures that deliberately try to show the two of them in one frame have never pleased me. But this picture somehow struck, and stuck.

The Amitabh-Rekha story, I am told, is the stuff of legends. By the time I grew up though much of it had faded away, and I got to hear only parts of it. Someone said he almost lived in with her in the house that he had bought for her. Someone said he would have left his wife for her but for his father -- babuji, as he would call him. I also heard that Silsila, the movie, almost ran parallel to the story of their lives. I never bothered much though. They looked good together on screen and that was that. Until now that is. 

The picture of the two of them in the same frame, and looking so good together (I am tempted to use the phrase made for each other, here), somehow reiterated a few things that have been on my mind for a few weeks now: the man-woman relationship, and the complications around it. 

Around two years ago, when I started to write, the multilayered, complicated, and sometimes even convoluted man-woman relationships, often featured on my blog, and in much detail too: I was intrigued, looking for answers. Although I never got any, I realised that I was not the only one thinking about it, there were many others like me. 

To me, the most interesting part about this drama -- one man, two or more women -- is that in the centre of every such drama is a man. It doesn't matter if he is rich or poor, if he is just an ordinary man or a celebrity, if is young or old. If it is a multi-angular relationship, it will be centered around a man, never a woman: ever heard of a woman living in with a lover while the husband manages the kids and home? And, in all such situations, there is only one villain -- the other women. The man is naive, the wife is helpless, but the other woman is a husband robbing, boyfriend-snatching bitch. 

I cannot say if it is our society, our upbringing, or our psyche that judges only the woman. The woman however vulnerable she herself might be, is blamed for the man's breaking away from his wife, deserting his children, abandoning his home. A few, if any, notice that the wife, or the husband, could equally be at fault.

Let us, for once, try to imagine the life of the other woman. The woman who bears everything for the love of a man she cannot call her own. She is ostracised by the society, sometimes, even her family. Her children, if at all she can convince the man to have any, are called bastards. Her house, however fancy it might be, is never a home, just as her man, however much he might love her, is never her husband. And yet, she, the other woman, forever longing to belong, is the one at fault.