Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Stories in the Songs

A musical, seen this Sunday
Performed with minimal props
featured performances that gleam
burnished with years of rigorous classical training
Pitch perfect, the notes quiver and turn and float in the air
In the quiet amphitheater
No room for improvisation
The audience a scarce inch away

That traced the evolution of Indian classical music
Through the ages
Even as the country was overrun with invaders of various vintage
From the Mughals to the British
Thumri, tappa, chaiti, hori, kajri
Derived from the classical,
giving lifebreath to the classical
Forms that survived, thrived,
A thread inching, meandering,
Insistent, full throated
Through these centuries

From the rendition of a dancing girl
Who sneaked in a freedom song in her performance
At the behest of the Mahatma
To the sincere if fumbling, warbling
Of Lady Elizabeth Hastings
Who tried to learn this difficult form of entertainment
From a polished native performer of the arts.
And so many other tales.

Even as I clapped to the beat, and hummed and cheered and laughed
Flashes of yesterday
Crept in unannounced;
Of notes filtering past the heat haze
Of voices in unison, rising skywards
A fun duet, now competing, now out-doing
In the manner of the young
I blinked.


Ricercar said...

amazing. as usual :)

austere said...

as usual.