This is a small story or rather an experience on coming in contact with a seemingly silent kid with a pocket full of talent.
17th April, 2009 was supposed to be a normal day like any other day. It involved scurrying to office, getting into crowded a bus that drives through dusty roads, falling asleep just to be awoken by sudden bumps. However, this day was different. The sound of the revving engines that resonated across the sultry indoors of the bus was superimposed by pleasant music emanating from an instrument that is hard to be classified as a musical instrument.
Before describing the instrument, let me introduce the owner of the instrument. He was just a boy. A boy who was covered with as much dust as the clothes he wore. It is possible that some might attribute this to be a result of a school kid enjoying his summer holidays by frolicking around in playgrounds. However his attire and the instrument he had told a completely different story. They said he probably does not know what it is to go to school and the playgrounds that he can imagine playing in are foot paths. Footpaths, which are home and stage to many unprivileged people like him. However, today the rickety bus that he boarded was privileged to be his host and i was privileged to be one of his audiences.
It goes without saying that the instrument was as austere as the owner. He held a stringed instrument. It had no resemblance, what so ever, with the ones that we see in musical instrument shops. My untrained ears however, attributed the music oozing out of his instrument to a violin. The resonating column of the instrument was a mere scraped out coconut shell whose open mouth was covered with something that looked like snake skin. The metal string scaled the distance between a bridge on the shell and the far end of a bamboo stick that passed through the diameter outer most circle of the shell. The instrument also had provision for tuning. And just like in violin he had bow to help the column resonate.
The stage was set, the audiences were present and the kid with his instrument enters the arena, an arena that is filled by people by chance rather than choice. The minute he slid his bow over the strings all the heads turned towards him and all the ears resonated in sync with his coconut shell. The bus was now filled with pleasant music that drowned the external noise.
The untidy attire and his dust covered visage were now claiming that there is an uncut diamond among us. The bus was honored to have a Mozart, whose talent we savored by chance and not by choice. His music triggered a torrent of thoughts in my mind. How did he learn to play all this? How does he imbibe magic of karnatic and Hindustani music in the sound that his instrument generates? How did he build this instrument in the first place? How does he know that an instrument built on coconut shell compete with violin that is made of expensive wood? How does he know to adjust the length of the string to generate a particular harmonic? In spite of being deluged by so many questions, my mind was floating in the prevailing waves.
The arrival to the Marathahalli bus stop signaled an end of the show and just before the curtains were about to fall in this auditorium, people were requested to contribute their mite. The kid made this day different, he pumped positive energy into the environment and all he gets in return is a thumbs up and a victory symbol on the one/two rupee coins that will hardly make a difference to his life.
I just wish the kid gets an opportunity to play in a real auditorium where the people are charged to listen to his music and where people arrive by choice rather than chance.