The trees were full of lush green leaves, a heavy south wind was blowing. The smell of flowers had filled the breeze with fragrance. Everyone was rejoicing as it was the first autumn after many years that brought Durga Pooja with much energy and joy.
The trees were moving in rhythm, the loud murmurs of the dry leaves were even heard till the temple where everyone was waiting to hear Meera. “No celebration is complete without our Meera’s singing no matter whoever sings”, whispers Nirmala boudi to her friend beside. The temple was enveloped with the soft sound of sitar, jugalbandi of leaves and the wind was also making a presence along with the melodious singing of Rupa . A beautiful Ashtami morning indeed!.
Mouth as wide open as a tunnel, eyes as shut as a locked door Meera was sitting and drowsing in the centre of a row of singers when she was jolted by the loud claps for Rupa that ran across the temple. It was now Meera’s turn to strain her vocal cords .All eyes turned at once from her to Meera . “Inspite of belonging to a lower middle class family, I trained my daughter with my hard earned money and she has always rewarded me with her honey sweet singing, she has never let us down . She recently finished her M.A in Indian classical music and is keen on studying further. She runs a music class in the city next to our village. She also has the responsibility of the house along with me and her father, as she has two sisters following her. We want Meera to study more as well as our other daughters but life is not as smooth and sweet as singing and living apart carries its own dangers. Meera has proved herself matured enough to understand this difference when she had rudimentary singing skills. This fills our chest with pride for our daughter”, talks Moni, Meera’s mother to Sandhya di who is a new face in the village and asks about Meera’s background.
Meera’s singing pulls everyones ears at once. The air is again filled with the sing song of Durga Pooja. Even the leaves and the chirping birds were heard singing along. The tinkling sound of the sitar played by her nimble fingers sounded like beads of ghungrus dropped on the floor. Meera sat in the middle of the alpana on the floor, draped in white saree with red border. She sang like choirs of Koels singing the song of joy to maa Durga. “I was very proud of her and was holding her hand and standing next to her among the never ending claps”. Pandit ji screamed with tears in his eyes “Wah! Maa Saraswati resides in her”, undoubtedly that was a matter of fact. “We have been best friends from childhood and I have known her passion for music, rather I am the only one who knows the hard work, madness and bravery she has in her to carry out her love for music .Meera and I have shared every bit of our lives and she has always been a perfect friend to me. I was a bit lost in thoughts when Meera pulled me out of my sweet reverie”. “Rupu ! Though the claps are louder for me but you have always been my idol and shall remain to be so.” We both smiled at each other and walked down the isles with the other performers along. Our parent’s heads held high where every eye looked at us with love and respect.
“So see you in the evening Ashtami pooja,” “Oh no am so sorry Rupu you know I have to go to the city for work today also” “You didn’t get a break today also ? That is weird. Ok never mind carry on I shall see you tomorrow in the temple.”
The evening was well lit up, since the night was covered with the blanket of stars. The North Star was dancing to the tunes of the autumn breeze. “Will you please hurry up?” Maa had to scream at least once at this time at Meera since she often gets late for the job in the city. It’s quite a long way and she has to hurry up. “Don’t forget to pack your shawl its chill outside.” She kissed all bye grabbed her packed bag wrapped maa’s old shawl across her shoulder which hid her new salwar kameez. She rushed into the dark part of the night which led to a dim lit reddish room, there was no feel of the autumn breeze, no tinkling of sitar and no honey sweet singing of Meera . The atmosphere was damp and suffocating. Too much hard music to tolerate. Everything was harsh and difficult. Darkness was the dominant colour.
“You are late again Meera,” “I’m sorry Rahul! Had a lot of work today. This will not happen again”. “And you are excused again, now come on get ready!” She pulled her satin sleeves up which exposed her tattooed arm, the braid transformed into a ponytail, shy beautiful eyes into blazing bold ones, delicate gold chain replaced by a metallic band around her neck and nimble fingers were controlling the strings of guitar with the same passion and perfection as sitar, soft sweet singing changed to hard rock singing. “That was Meera standing and singing in front of me, her drastic transformation was my favourite part. I always admire her for her guts and her craziness for music and that is the soul requirement to be a part of our rock band. I respect Meera a lot and want to help her as I am aware of her struggle. She is from the village which survives on the mercy of our city.” Meera adds on to her income by playing for the rock band too and earns more than enough for her family. But she always feels guilty about lying to them, she knows how to manage and she will rock in this too as she does in her life.